• 72°

New exhibit showcases ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ felt during pandemic

A new exhibition at the Freeborn County Arts Initiative showcases one artist’s take on issues happening and emotions felt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Solitude Series,” is a Minnesota State Arts Board funded exhibition by Albert Lea artist Susanne Crane, exploring the ideas of safe space, isolation, mental illness, hospice, incarceration and social alienation, among others.

It is the Arts Initiative’s first show to be held in-person since March 2020.

“This exhibition is different from all of my others, in that it takes on difficult subjects, being far more diverse and experimental,” Crane said. “I am known for positive works of mystical realism that are dreamlike and radiant. All of these works were done in highly stressful times, and some of them show it. This show expresses the rollercoaster of emotions that many people have been dealing with under these difficult times.”

Crane said she needed to complete 16 pieces to fulfill her grant application, but she ultimately completed 21 to coincide with the year 2021. All of the work was finished in a six-month period.

“It was really stressful to do that kind of volume of work when the world news and the way that things were going kind of puts you in an emotional roller coaster,” she said. “There’s so much going on in the world that you have no control over — but I managed it, and I’m really relieved that I was able to do that amount of work.”

Crane said while there are some paintings in the exhibition that depict hope, many others explore feelings such as loss and grief.

“This show runs the gamut of the things I was thinking about and experiencing during the shutdown — during this whole COVID chapter,” Crane said. She described herself as a “COVID long-hauler” and said having to do the exhibition helped her in her own personal recovery.

She said she is relieved that the show will take place after the Arts Initiative board previously did not know when it would be able to open the gallery again in-person. 

“I’m really happy about the fact that we’ve survived thus far as an organization, and the gallery is looking great,” she said, noting the new flooring and LED lighting there.

The Freeborn County Arts Initiative gallery at 224 S. Broadway is open from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Crane’s exhibit is expected to be put on the Arts Initiative website at www.fcai.us next week.

The show runs until the end of June.