Rene Westbrook

Artist Statement

Mysteries and coded messages were always fascinating to me as a child. Stars were the ultimate conundrum and I sought out every inch of the night sky looking for the doorway. Art is like that for me. It is a doorway into a mystery that begs to be uncovered. As a young woman, I studied abroad, examining Hieroglyphs, indigenous markings and wall paintings at the British Museum looking for the secrets of the ages. It took a long time to understand that I, too had secrets that could be revealed through the exploration of my inner soul. I am highly influenced by ideas and ancient wisdom. Books and films and other visual media keep me attached to the unknown corners of what is still possible and what can be discovered. Writers and artists like Ralph EllisonAlbert CamusSimone de BeauvoirFranz Fanon and Albert Giacometti of the Existentialist movement informed my early thinking. Later, I became interested in the writings of Jiddu KrishnamurtiSatprem and Helena Blavatsky, which added another dimension to the use of symbols in my artwork. Yet, African Animism, with its complex system of polytheistic elements and ancestor worship has had the biggest influences on both my artwork and my life, giving rise to an etheric underpinning forged in social commentary. I am of this world but also not rooted in it.


Hieroglyphics of Hate
Grace Romero, Viewer’s Choice Award Winner 2021

This painting is a companion piece to Hieroglyphics of Hate, both of which were commissioned for the BLM exhibition funded by the Schnitzer Family Fund grant in 2020 and debuted at the WSU Art Museum last year.

The impact of DELIVERANCE speaks to the savagery of racism that is depicted in the first painting, Hieroglyphics of Hate and its deliverance from such evil that is clearly rendered in the second painting. The sanctity of survival throughout history is the ultimate message of DELIVERANCE. We honor our resilient ancestors and their LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER as they remain part of our important history of salvation in a hostile environment. 


Rene has worked professionally as a sculptor, painter, photographer, multi-media artist and educator for 40 years. She is an award-winning recipient in fine arts, sculpture, and photography. Rene’s artwork has been exhibited on both coasts and internationally. Her wide range and eclectic background has created a diverse portfolio that lends itself to her teaching a variety of art techniques.

Rene graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (BFA) in Classical Sculpture and Arts Education. She has been an Artist in Residence at many notable centers, including Master Artists in Residency Program at Northeastern University, (AAMARP) Boston, California Council on the Arts, and the Alana Community Outreach and Training Center in Vermont. Her work has been exhibited in many solo and group shows including the Museum of the National Center of African American Artists, Boston, Simmons College, Harvard University, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the International Arts exhibition at the University of Hawaii, Hilo.

In addition to these accomplishments, Rene is an award-winning poet, a puppeteer, and has spent several years in theater and television. She describes herself simply as a creative explorer of life’s mysteries; regardless of the medium so long as the inquiry has a way of expressing itself!

Instagram @spiritspirit