Prairie Profiles: ‘A special experience’

Published 9:03 pm Monday, January 7, 2019

Arts Initiative intern is enjoying her time in Albert Lea


A New Mexico native is getting a taste of Albert Lea and the surrounding area this year through two opportunities.

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Katie Bickley, 23, is working as a Minnesota Reading Corps reading specialist in Wells through an AmeriCorps grant and as an intern at the Freeborn County Arts Initiative.

Bickley, who graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield last year, moved to Albert Lea in October when the opportunities arose.

She said she has been a family friend of Albert Lean Susanne Crane for several years and knew she wanted to do some work with the Freeborn County Arts Initiative after seeing the work at the gallery. She said the gallery has had a range of artists from all across the country and has brought “an amazing level of arts and culture.” The Reading Corps position was a good fit and Bickley found it to be within a reasonable driving distance from Albert Lea.

She came to town at the end of the arts organization’s September/October show and for the group show in November and December. She is now helping to take submissions for the upcoming show, titled “Theatre of the Mind,” which explores the connection between art and literature.

Through the Arts Initiative, she also volunteers with the gallery on the weekends at special events and wherever else she is needed. She serves as secretary for the Arts Initiative board.

“I feel really lucky to be in a town with such an amazing historic downtown district,” Bickley said of the historic Bessesen building, where the Arts Initiative is housed, and of downtown Albert Lea. “Being so close to such a cool piece of history in a small town environment, that has been a special experience.”

Though she does not describe herself as an artist, she said she is definitely enthusiastic about art. In her spare time she enjoys music and reading. She said she would love to be involved in a community choir and plays the piano.

Though she may not be in Albert Lea long-term as she is looking ahead to grad school through a divinity school — where she can pursue multiple options possible including nonprofit work —  she is enjoying her time here in the meantime.


Katie Bickley

Age: 23

Address: Albert Lea

Livelihood: Reading Corps reading specialist in Wells, intern at Freeborn County Arts Initiative

Family: parents in New Mexico

Interesting fact: took Latin in college