In Amy Westover’s studio—a modest yurt on her property in Boise, Idaho—, it’s not uncommon to find shards of glass, printing presses, kilns and planning documents. This multi-faceted, non-medium specific artist has public artworks scattered throughout the city. From her first public art commission in 2003, Grove Street Illuminated, to her most recent work Virgo in 2014, Amy has managed to stay very, very busy. This artist, designer, and fulltime mother discusses her work, workspace, and the ever-changing landscape of Boise’s creative class.
What’s your favorite piece of artwork that you’ve created?
They all have reasons for being a favorite, but my most recent work “Virgo” was special. Usually an install is very intense and fast paced, with no time to interact with the public. The slow pace of this install was the best thing that could have happened. We had a great deal of intimate conversations with onlookers about the work. It was great to see people interacting with the work and not just kids, adults too. I would see people standing at the crosswalk waiting for the light to turn green wondering what the random assemblage of parts and pieces were. Then, a light bulb would go off and “ding” they understood what they were looking at! It was so fun to see.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a design team for the Boise Watershed River Campus. The Boise Watershed Environmental Learning Center is located at the waste water treatment plant in Boise and is now creating a three-acre campus around the education center. Essentially, we’re creating a mini watershed system as an educational tool. Educational vignettes will be placed throughout the property telling the complete story of what happens with our water, how precious the resource is and how we can be more responsible with it.
In my own private studio work, I’m just plugging away on glass projects and printmaking projects in the time I have between other things. I don’t have another job. I’m a fulltime artist and a fulltime mom.
Where do you sell your work?
I was one of the ten artists who started Enso. I was with Enzo Art Space for a couple years, before that I was with the J Crist Gallery. I have a website, but don’t sell my work online. Most of my commissions come from past work. I think some people don’t have it in their consciousness that the public artist also has a private practice.
How much time per week do you spend in your studio and what kind of relationship do you have with your workspace?
I spend about 4 to 5 hours per week creating, of course when I’m really working on a project that’s very different. Since I’ve moved to Hagerman, I come back to Boise every other week to work in my studio. Eventually, I plan to build a new studio space where I live. As far as my relationship to my workspace, it is my sanctuary. I’m surrounded by natural light and wood in this round space. I don’t feel separate from the outside, because it’s basically a tent. It’s wonderful. I hear the birds. I hear the wind and rain in this space. A connection to nature in my studio is really important to me. It’s really functional for me too; I can easily rearrange the space for printmaking or glass work or whatever I’m doing.
What types of resources do you need to further your art career?
The thing that I struggle with so much is documenting my work properly. It’s so tedious. I don’t have the patience for it and it’s not something I’m super interested in. It’s also really hard for me to relinquish my work to someone else. I have so many projects that aren’t photographed.
People also say that you need someone to market you and your work. I don’t even know what that means. I don’t really feel that I need “marketing.” I need an “agent,” someone to help place my work in different galleries or helping send out applications for projects. It would be amazing to have someone working on photography and documentation of my work.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for other artists?
As far as I know, we have one life to live. If you have something that needs to be expressed through sculpture or glass or printmaking or dance or theatre or puppets or whatever, do it now. Make your priorities yours. If you don’t live your life, there are a lot of other people who’d be so happy to live it for you.
Do you feel that Boise’s art community is thriving? Is there anything lacking in this art community?
For the last three years I’ve been living in Hagerman, so I’m not as active in the local art scene. I don’t have a good thermometer on it to tell you the truth. In general, I would say that over the course of the last four or five years there has been less gallery activity and less visual artists doing their own self-motivated projects. I remember going to more random visual art performances on the street.
On the flip side of that coin, the music scene has just blown up in Boise. I think the pendulum has swung towards music. I really wouldn’t be able to say if there’s something lacking necessarily, the public art in Boise is phenomenal and that has been a life line for visual artists here.
I think things ebb and flow naturally, the pendulum swings in different directions. Trey McIntyre Project was a huge force in Boise’s arts and culture scene, dance was huge. There was an incredible force of combining visual arts and dance with opportunities to collaborate. Maybe we’ll see more of that with this pendulum swinging more toward music.
I think the arts and cultural scene of Boise as a whole, is still thriving. Right now, visual arts might not be the driving force, but it’s alive and well for sure.
Creators, Makers, and Doers highlights the lives and work of Boise artists and creative individuals. Selected profiles focus on individuals whose work has been supported by the Boise City Dept. of Arts & History.