The young artist explained his creation, an oversized yellow and black goblet with hexagons encircling the figure of a woman at the base.

“The Queen’s Goblet” is “kind of a play off the queen bee, but she’s just sitting there, really, really bored,” said Stephen Edstrom.

His whimsical work is one of the many pieces on display as Anoka-Ramsey Community College shows off the efforts of its most recent crop of fine-arts graduate candidates. The portfolio exhibit, which runs through April 18 at the Coon Rapids campus, is titled “Our Movement” and contains work from 14 artists in multiple forms: photography, ceramics, drawings, paintings, digital illustrations, sculpture, and glass.

Andi Rain, of Minneapolis, one of the artists, makes fused and blown glass sculptural pieces, as well as vases and goblets.

“Goblets are really fun to make,” she said. “They’re challenging.” She’s showing her glass pieces alongside her drawings and photos.

Anoka-Ramsey is unique in that it has the only collegiate glass program in the state, said Rich Schneider, head of the glass department.

The program started in the 1970s. Art glass really took off in that decade and in the ’80s, Schneider said, and “really has just continued to expand.”

However, it hasn’t been completely seamless. The program at the University of Minnesota shut down years ago, Schneider said, and he pointed to a couple of factors. “It is a pretty high expense per student,” he said, “and it takes up a lot of room.”

Now artists who want to focus on glass are drawn to the Coon Rapids campus, he said, and because most degrees at Anoka-Ramsey require an arts or humanities credit, non-majors take glassblowing because it looks like fun.

“My classes are full every semester,” he said. “Glass is just really exciting. [There’s] a little bit of flash, a little bit of danger. It’s kind of the carnival ride of art mediums.”

Last October, the college held its first-ever glass pumpkin sale, where students and faculty made more than 500 of the items to sell, along with other glass items, and they did glassblowing demonstrations. Proceeds went to art scholarships and a visiting artist series.

Rain said she spends about 30 hours a week in the glass studio, not always blowing glass, sometimes just hanging out. “We just feed off each other’s creativity,” she said.

Photos on display

This year’s portfolio show also has an abundance of photography. Skyler Snyder, of Minneapolis, is displaying black-and-white photos of natural areas and nude figures. Anna Carle, of Elk River, captured life at a dairy farm in Dayton. Chelsea Kucera, a photographer from Maple Grove, is showing a collection of night photos of “quiet streets and houses.” Jennifer Peske, of Otsego, did a series of vivid color portraits that focus on how the accumulation of trash affects the natural world.

The students have various post-grad plans. Kucera has already started a business taking family photos. Heather Hauta said that she is going for her master’s in ceramics and wants to become a teacher. Rain hopes to open an Etsy store to sell work. She’s also planning on taking community education classes at Anoka-Ramsey after she graduates so that she can continue using the glass studio.

The student exhibit is on display in the Coon Rapids Campus Visual Arts Center, alongside artwork from the college’s permanent collection.


Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.