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


Rene Westbrook’s “Alma Mater” was commissioned for this spring’s Olympia Arts Walk poster.

Courtesy of Rene Westbrook

Artist Rene Westbrook is all concerning the message.

Westbrook’s “Alma Mater,” commissioned for this spring’s Olympia Arts Walk poster, is a colourful mixed-media portrait of a topped lady with arms open huge and every hand holding an Earth.

The determine represents common consciousness, stated Westbrook of Lacey.

“The alma mater — the nurturing mother — is the consciousness of everything that’s around her,” she instructed The Olympian. “She’s a nurturing spirit that’s above everything else and that we’re all connected to. … We are here to nurture. We and she and everything are interrelated.

“I’m a hippie from way back,” she added. “We used to say people are spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience. … I was a flower child — raised on peace, love and happiness.”

“I’m a hippie from way back,” says Olympia Arts Walk cowl artist Rene Westbrook. Courtesy of Rene Westbrook

But beneath the lightness and playfulness of “Alma Mater,” which contains felt, silk, appliqué, metallic paper and extra, lies the self-described “conscious crusader’s” concern concerning the state of the world.

“The only way to stay relevant as a thinking human being is to not close my eyes,” she stated. “A lot of people don’t want to watch the news, don’t want to get involved, don’t care about anything but their families. It’s so short sighted to decide that no other person or no other species is important. We are integrally connected.”

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

“Her work explores complex themes and intersections of identity and speaks to human experience in a way that jurors felt relevant to this moment in our community’s history,” Nava instructed The Olympian. “’Alma Mater’ is about rebirth and overcoming, and I hope that community members find hope and inspiration in the work.”

Inspiring individuals and reminding them of connections is strictly what Westbrook aimed to do with the piece, which invitations the viewer to see, actually, the larger image.

“Most people need allegory,” she stated. “They need something more than a truck coming straight at them. So instead of just doing depressing work, I try to find the beauty within the beast.”

Other points Westbrook has explored just lately embody local weather change in a collection known as “Life on Mars” and racism and resilience, together with in work she did for the 2021 Black Lives Matter exhibition at Washington State University’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Pullman.

One of her items for that present, “Deliverance,” additionally was on view final month at South Puget Sound Community College’s “Black Love” exhibition. Also on the faculty, Westbrook explored the harm brought on by quick vogue in a bit created for Janice Arnold’s collaborative “Skin & Bones in the Multiverse.”

Westbrook, whose present work contains portray, cloth artwork and collage, was skilled as a sculptor and likewise has labored in images, puppetry, poetry, theater and tv.

“I like transitioning between techniques so that the message is not reliant on one art form,” she stated. “I like ideas more than I like anything. I construct ideas verbally and then translate those ideas into a visual statement.”

Rene Westbrook

  • What: Artist Westbrook of Lacey created “Alma Mater,” which represents common consciousness. It and different of her current work will probably be on view for Arts Walk, and Westbrook will probably be readily available to speak about her work.
  • When: 6-9 p.m. Friday, April 22, and noon-6 p.m. Saturday, April 23
  • Where: Ossa Skinworks, 109 Capitol Way N., Olympia
  • More info: https://www.instagram.com/spiritspirit/
  • Also: Westbrook’s business work is obtainable at Gallery Boom, 3959 Martin Way E., Olympia.

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