Julie Westmaas’ love of fabric and fiber arts began around the age of eight with her grandmother’s embroidery hoop, and she later learned to sew in her early teens. Sewing became a passion and inspired a lifelong interest in fiber arts.
Westmaas studied art at Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University. She also earned a scholarship through GVSU to study art for the summer in Dubrovnik, Croatia. In her classes, Westmaas studied photography, painting, and batik, but realized that fiber arts are her preferred way to express her creativity. With fabrics, threads, paints, inks, dyes, yarn, ribbon, and trim pieces, the ideas are always endless.
The subject matter in Westmaas’ pieces ranges from landscapes, flowers, food, people, animals, and more. She often uses her own photographs as inspiration. Her fiber art includes such items as framed quilted art, fabric bowls, jewelry, gift bags, and batik designs.
She teaches fiber arts and batik at Lakeshore Sewing and the Newaygo County Council for the Arts – Artsplace, with her work displayed in the Muskegon Museum of Art Gift Shop, the NCCA-Artsplace and here at City Center Arts.
Life is a great tapestry. The individual is only an insignificant thread in an immense and miraculous pattern.Albert Einstein
Evelyn Jane Olthof was born and raised in North Yorkshire (UK) and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA) in September 2018 . Evelyn has been a creative soul since childhood with encouragement from her large family of artists, tailors, musicians and bakers, inspiring her to pursue dreams in art and music. Her strong interests in music lead her to Leeds College of Music, earning herself an Extended BTEC Level 3 diploma in classical music working predominantly on clarinet. This encouraged her to embrace other creative talents in her spare time, including art and textiles, practicing ink drawing through lectures and classes to help with concentration and productivity throughout the less creative sessions.
Giving is a strong passion of Evelyn’s and is at the heart of what she does. She recently began volunteering at City Center Arts (Muskegon MI) as a member artist, giving the ability to display her art. She has also been volunteering in the Scouting movement in both the UK and USA since 2016 after taking part as a scout for most of her teenage years. This developed some key social and life skills, allowing for creativity and leadership to flare and for her to provide the same life changing, new and crucial experiences to other teens and leading them in making change in their community, and the world. https://www.youtube.com/embed/2rzOteEMpbo?feature=oembed
Most works are inspired by whatever is on the mind or comes to mind, mainly with focuses of freedom, captivity and personal expression through challenging life experiences, like the ambitious intercontinental move at a young age. Evelyn never attended art classes and her main mediums lie in ink and acrylic, however has interest in mixed medias. Now after having her first child, her vital concentration is being as environmentally conscious in her works as possible, giving the Earth a voice and Providing a cleaner, more sustainable future for her child. Encouraging others to donate everyday items, using found materials, reusing and recycling are important practices, prevalent in a lot of works and a consistent focus when using social medias as a platform, giving beauty to trash, and supporting others in their sustainable journey.
Evelyn is looking to soon expand horizons in terms of mediums, in the hope of recycling items such as pop tabs, bottle tops and tires, to make sculptures and furniture items, further expanding the sustainable and planet friendly intentions. The strong drive to make a difference in the world comes from the desire for others to see the world through her eyes, with empathy, compassion and consideration. Although dwindling qualities amongst today’s society, all are important and she hopes that her art, and statements made through it, will inspire others to be more conscious and caring in their actions toward each other, their communities and their planet.