WESTEN MUNTAIN NEVER ASPIRED to become an artist. "Smart people," she jokes, "take one look at a career in the visual arts and run the other way!"
Ever since Westen picked up the French horn in fifth grade, she thought she would become a musician. But once in college, she realized that she no longer wanted to put in the many hours of practice that professional musicians require. She felt drawn to photography, and after enrolling in a class, she found it so satisfying that she declared art as her major. That summer she applied to the Chautauqua Institute in New York and became immersed in the visual arts with students from some of the finest art schools in the US.
As Westen tells it, the summer program was extremely challenging. But the experience set her career in motion. "That summer," Westen explains, "was one of the best things that ever happened to me, because somewhere in there, I discovered that this was me, this was what I wanted." That same summer she made her first woodblock reduction prints. She says that the form looked and felt exactly like the right medium for her to express the beauty of the world.