Renee Kelly is the child of a Vietnam Veteran who was drafted at nineteen and served in the Vietnam War in 1967-68.  Her father fought in the Tet Offensive and the Battle of Duc Pho among others.  She was born in San Francisco in 1974 and grew up in a nice suburb around other non-military civilians who never spoke of the war, and at a time when there was little to no understanding of PTSD.  Like most Vietnam Vets and families of Vietnam Vets at the time, her father and her family were left to figure things out alone and on their own, which really meant the abnormal was made normal and life went on.

Renee’s creative work began years ago as a stab in the dark at revealing the unseen and ignored truth of her childhood, while also revealing something inside her that wasn’t quite understandable at the time.  She now knows this misunderstood something by its true name, intergenerational trauma.  Her creative intent was always for awareness.  If she made the work, perhaps there were others like her who might see it, somehow understand, and not feel so alone.  Her current work is a continued exploration into the experiences and impacts of intergenerational trauma as the child of a Vietnam Vet. 

Renee began drawing as a child, inspired by her grandfather’s paintings.  She graduated from San Francisco State with a BA in Media Arts Communications and worked as a Continuity Director and Traffic Manager at various Bay Area media companies such as KIOI, KFOG, CNET Networks, and SF Magazine.  During this time she furthered her interest and skill in art by taking night studio courses at a local community college.  After leaving the media industry to start a family, Renee began more actively pursuing her artistic passions, and enrolled in courses in the Berkeley Extension Visual Arts Program. She completed a Certificate in Drawing in 2015 and a Post-Bac Visual Arts Certificate in 2018.  Renee also completed a Certificate in Social Emotional Arts from UCLA Arts & Healing in 2022.  She continues to live and work in the Bay Area, and her art has been shown in various exhibitions in the U.S.

Studio Location

San Francisco Bay Area/Petaluma, CA


Certificate in Social Emotional Arts, UCLA Art & Healing, Santa Monica, CA 2022

Certificate, Post Bac Program in Visual Arts, Berkeley Extension, San Francisco, 2018

Certificate, Specialized Program in Drawing, Berkeley Extension, San Francisco, 2015

BA, Media Communication Arts, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 1996


Marin Museum of Contemporary Art Member, Novato, 2021-Present

Sons & Daughters of the Vietnam War Founding Member, Weatherford, TX 2021-Present

Magic Shop Studios Collective Member, Petaluma, CA 2020-Present

7+1 Collective Founding Member, San Francisco, CA 2018-Present

Hayward Art Council Member, Hayward, CA 2018-Present

A.R.T. Inc. Member, Hayward, CA 2018-Present

Marin Society of Artists Board Member, San Rafael,  2019-2020

Marin Society of Artists Figure Drawing Group Facilitator, San Rafael, 2019

Marin Society of Artists Member, San Rafael, CA 2014-2020

PTA Reflections Coordinator, Novato, 2015-2016

Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance Member, Langhorne, PA 2011-Present

Elementary School Art Docent, Novato, CA 2011-2019