Ren Sontsmann: Port Huron artist and LGBTQ+ advocate shares their creative journey

Ren Sontsmann, a 24-year-old resident of Port Huron, is an emerging artist in the Blue Water Area with a remarkable journey marked by creativity and resilience.

Their creative endeavors began in their late teens following a decision to compile their gift cards to invest in materials and delve into stained glass artistry.

“I find that I'm drawn to mediums that are unusual, that not just everybody knows how to do,” Sontsmann says. “I want to put in the work to learn this skill because I like the way it looks or because the process looks interesting to me.”

Sontsmann did stained glass art for about a year and a half during which time their talents caught the eye of community leaders and other local artists. They were recruited to work as the project manager and lead artist creating a mixed-media wave mosaic artwork that is now on permanent display nestled between MiMutual Mortgage and the Community Foundation of St. Clair County in downtown Port Huron.

Ren Sontsmann was one of several local artists who collaborated to create the wave mosaic that is permanently displayed in downtown Port Huron.

Sontsmann says working with mosaics was a natural progression from their stained glass art that allowed them the ability to experiment and be more flexible.

“I always set aside my scraps from when I was making stained glass because I always had the intention of doing mosaic with them,” they say. “Where stained glass is very planned and methodical, mosaic is a lot more freeform. It's more relaxing and therapeutic for me because you don't have to plan where things are going to go. You kind of get to let the pieces fall together.”

Stained glass artwork by Ren Sontsmann.As they design the pieces themselves, Sontsmann says there is a lot of planning that goes into the composition of their creations.

“I don't use patterns that anyone else has designed, so I need to make sure that when I'm sketching up those designs that I'm creating something that is possible and realistic for me to make in glass,” they say. “I like to use Procreate on the iPad so I'll often sketch up the shapes of what I want as just like a rough sketch … So that planning process is very methodical.”

An active member of local nonprofit Blue Water Allies, Sontsmann co-hosts a weekly trans support group at the Blue Water Ally Center and holds regular art classes where they teach others how to make their own mosaic art.

“Even if they don't feel like they have an artistic bone in their body, they can still show up, play, and make something that's interesting and that they can feel proud of,” Sontsmann says. “It’s really cool to see people open up and believe in themselves and I think they take that with them when they go.”

Ren Sontsmann takes a picture with their mosaic class showing off their creations.

Sontsmann shared their long-standing interest in tattoo artistry which they set aside earlier in life due to societal stigma. Now with renewed confidence, they are eager to explore this avenue further.

Ren Sontsmann as their drag persona Gender Euphoria.“I had always thought they looked cool, but it wasn’t something that I was really around,” Sontsmann says. “I’ve started caring so much less about pleasing other people and I am just more interested in doing something that works for me … I know that I can do whatever creatively if I just apply myself to it so I decided that I’m going to start building a portfolio.”

As an extension of their artistic pursuits, Sontsmann is also deeply engaged in the local LGBTQ+ community. In May, they began performing at local establishments as their drag persona “Gender Euphoria.”

“I feel like I have started enjoying stepping into the spotlight a lot more recently, allowing myself to take credit when I do a cool thing,” they say. “It's very rewarding to put the work in like that and then see people respond positively to it and cheer you on.”

To see more of Sontsmann’s drag and artistic creations, visit Art for Everyone Mosaic Workshops or on Instagram @gendereuphoria.drag.
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Read more articles by Liz Fredendall.

Liz Fredendall is a photojournalist and communications professional with nonprofit experience. During her free time, she enjoys reading and exploring the Blue Water Area with her husband Erick and their corgi, Nori. Contact Liz at or follow her on Instagram @lizfredendallphoto.