West displays “Mojave”

By  Jennifer Fernandez/Staff reporter

Rene West, assistant photography professor at Amarillo College, recently displayed her most recent art project; “Mojave – Ancient Lands and Animal Stories” at AC’s Southern Light Gallery. 

The Southern Light Gallery is curated by West. The gallery provides an opportunity for students and other photographers to display their work. It is located on the first floor of the Ware Student Commons on the Washington Street Campus.

West spent eight days in solitude following a workshop she hosted in a Nevada desert where she spent her days drawing and taking photos with a pinhole camera she fashioned from old paint cans. 

“The wind blew for four days and I didn’t feel like I could get my camera out,” West said.

Alone in the desert for a week and a day, West said she was happy to have encounters with different animals that inspired the creation of her art. “Every day they had a story to tell me,” she said. 

West’s art contains mandalas that she drew through a form of meditation while in the desert. “I like the practice of sitting down and drawing, not thinking, just drawing.” A mandala is a symbol that represents the universe. It is a spiritual and ritual symbol that carries significance that is unique per individual. 

“I didn’t have WiFi, but I had a lot of time,” West said. 

She combined the drawings of the mandalas with drawings of the animals she encountered to create the pieces featured.

“I scanned the drawings of the mandalas then began to build up composite images based on the shapes that were in the original drawings,” West said. According to West, this display is different for her. “I’ve never shown landscapes before, and I didn’t anticipate that’s what I’d do while there.”

West has taught at AC for 11 years. West’s students said she inspires them through her passion for her work. 

“She is eccentric, at times overwhelming, but in a good way,” Brandon Belflower, current student of West and photography major said. 

Some students have taken several classes that West instructs. They believe that her years of experience show in her knowledge of photography. 

“Not only is she a great teacher, but a good friend,” Zach Quiroz, a photography major, said.

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