Story by Gillian Hill Photos by Emma Thompson
Becka Watkins has been creating art her whole life, but she didn’t start calling herself an artist until a few years ago. She was an occupational therapist because that’s what her dad did, a teacher like her mom, and followed a good friend’s advice to take up nursing. It wasn’t until recently that she realized she was ready to pick what was right for her, and truly embraced the artist within. “It was a long path, moving through these other careers, but they’ve given me so many experiences that shape my art,” Becka tells me.
She connected with BOSCO while finding her place in the local art scene. The Boise Open Studios Collective Organization is most known for their annual Open Studios weekend, when the public visit studios to watch artists create. BOSCO is a non-profit organization that aims to act as a bridge between local artists and the larger community of Boise. The one thing that linked all her prior careers was being a caretaker, and she was energized and inspired to use that role to help in the Boise art community. She is keen to develop a network of resources for artists to support their success, in whatever way they define it, and pull on the knowledge and support that is available locally. Becka is passionate about providing this caretaking role. “There are so many questions we have as artists; how do I ship my art, where can I get grants, how could I create my website, where in Boise could I show my art? I would love for BOSCO to be the hub that allows artists of all levels of expertise and knowledge to come together and help find answers, which is why we created BOSCO Connection.”
As a child dealing with an eating disorder, Becka created art in her journal with no goals – just a desire to let go of her emotions. Once in rehab, creating art became a way to process her journey toward recovery. Last year Becka partnered with the GIMM lab at Boise State University to create an interactive VR experience which uses her art to explore the issues involved with eating disorders. Becka’s passion to help comes out in this project too; she would love to help others create art if it helps them work toward their goal of being healthy. “Creativity is like a language; it tells the story of who you are, and when you create art, you are creating a relationship with your viewer and opening up your story.” Becka’s first degree was in Creative Writing, and she can see the threads of art in her journals as a child and a need to write joining to make sense of her story. As a self-taught artist in Boise she is now developing how she wants to create art and how she can help her art community.
I asked Becka why she’s so keen to develop BOSCO Connection. She told me that while Idaho, with a stunning landscape around every corner, has a solid tradition of Plein Air painting, there are also a lot of artists sitting alone in their studios creating amazing pieces. “Realizing that you are a part of a community can really support you and lift you up as you make your art.” For Becka, the process is more important than the end product, and her goal is to help everyone create art without feeling limited by what they think they can create and whether others will like it.
BOSCO has always fostered a greater understanding of the creative process; pulling the curtain back from the end product to see how the art was made and what was involved for the artist. By focusing on artists and supporting them find ways to showcase their art in the world, BOSCO Connection will be continuing that tradition, but with a new focus. Becka highlights that this isn’t just for Boise artists either. “We are Treasure Valley wide, not limited just to the downtown area, and we encourage artists throughout the valley, whether they pay their bills with their art or work on it with a passion at the weekends, to connect and find their community.”
Becka creates abstract, expressionist art. You can find her work at https://www.beckawatkinsart.com or at her studio at North 21st Street Boise, ID 83702 If you’re an artist and interested in joining BOSCO Connection, please contact Becka Watkins at firstname.lastname@example.org