Olympia Arts Walk cover artist Rene Westbrook creates ‘Alma Mater’


Artist Rene Westbrook is all about the message.

Westbrook’s “Alma Mater,” commissioned for this spring’s Olympia Arts Stroll poster, is a colourful combined-media portrait of a topped female with arms open large and just about every hand holding an Earth.

The figure represents universal consciousness, mentioned Westbrook of Lacey.

“The alma mater — the nurturing mom — is the consciousness of anything which is all over her,” she informed The Olympian. “She’s a nurturing spirit that is previously mentioned all the things else and that we’re all related to. … We are here to nurture. We and she and almost everything are interrelated.

“I’m a hippie from way back,” she added. “We employed to say men and women are religious beings having a human practical experience, not human beings obtaining a non secular practical experience. … I was a flower child — elevated on peace, appreciate and contentment.”

“I’m a hippie from way again,” says Olympia Arts Stroll deal with artist Rene Westbrook. Courtesy of Rene Westbrook

But beneath the lightness and playfulness of “Alma Mater,” which incorporates felt, silk, appliqué, metallic paper and additional, lies the self-described “conscious crusader’s” worry about the state of the globe.

“The only way to remain appropriate as a contemplating human getting is to not shut my eyes,” she stated. “A large amount of men and women really do not want to observe the information, don’t want to get concerned, really don’t care about nearly anything but their households. It’s so shorter sighted to make your mind up that no other individual or no other species is essential. We are integrally connected.”

Westbrook’s themes, together with her experimental strategy, resonated with the jury that selected her as the poster artist, reported Arts Walk coordinator Angel Nava of Olympia’s Parks, Arts and Recreation Section.

“Her function explores advanced themes and intersections of identity and speaks to human working experience in a way that jurors felt pertinent to this moment in our community’s background,” Nava explained to The Olympian. “’Alma Mater’ is about rebirth and beating, and I hope that group users find hope and inspiration in the operate.”

Inspiring people and reminding them of connections is accurately what Westbrook aimed to do with the piece, which invites the viewer to see, virtually, the larger photo.

“Most persons need to have allegory,” she reported. “They need some thing a lot more than a truck coming straight at them. So as an alternative of just doing depressing function, I check out to uncover the beauty within the beast.”

Other concerns Westbrook has explored just lately involve local weather improve in a collection termed “Life on Mars” and racism and resilience, together with in do the job she did for the 2021 Black Life Issue exhibition at Washington Point out University’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Artwork in Pullman.

Just one of her pieces for that present, “Deliverance,” also was on look at last thirty day period at South Puget Audio Neighborhood College’s “Black Love” exhibition. Also at the university, Westbrook explored the hurt brought on by quick fashion in a piece developed for Janice Arnold’s collaborative “Skin & Bones in the Multiverse.”

Westbrook, whose present operate incorporates portray, material art and collage, was qualified as a sculptor and also has labored in photography, puppetry, poetry, theater and tv.

“I like transitioning concerning tactics so that the message is not reliant on a person artwork form,” she reported. “I like concepts much more than I like everything. I assemble ideas verbally and then translate all those tips into a visible statement.”

Rene Westbrook

  • What: Artist Westbrook of Lacey developed “Alma Mater,” which signifies common consciousness. It and other of her modern function will be on perspective for Arts Walk, and Westbrook will be on hand to speak about her operate.
  • When: 6-9 p.m. Friday, April 22, and noon-6 p.m. Saturday, April 23
  • In which: Ossa Skinworks, 109 Capitol Way N., Olympia
  • More info: https://www.instagram.com/spiritspirit/
  • Also: Westbrook’s industrial operate is readily available at Gallery Increase, 3959 Martin Way E., Olympia.

This tale was originally published April 22, 2022 5:00 AM.


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