RCTC Graduate Paints a Bright Future


Kristen Brown.

The textures weren’t fitting together. A swatch of colors couldn’t agree on coming together or clashing. Brushing paint onto canvas – her passion – may as well have been pulling teeth. As the hours ticked by on her clock, so too would the months pass by as the canvas sat unfulfilled. Unfinished.

Kristen Brown was stuck.

The recent Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) graduate finds producing a piece of work to either flow as easily as paint squeezed from a tube, or as useless as using a dry paint brush.



It’s not that Brown isn’t adroit at what she does, but that sometimes the creativity needed to be an artist can sometimes be hard to find.

“There are times where I wasn’t feeling anything while painting,” she says. “Jeff Jacobsen (RCTC art instructor and division coordinator) would say, ‘stop thinking and start doing. If you don’t like it, paint over it and change it. You don’t want to just have mediocre paintings, to keep working with them.’”



It’s but one nugget of information gleaned from the art department during her nearly three years at RCTC earning an Associates of Fine Arts degree. But all of the little bits of instruction added up quickly, helping Brown form a bond with her instructors.

“I had heard from a lot of people that RCTC had a good art department, but never really knew how good until I was there,” says Brown. “I got close to my professors right away.

“Just having one-on-one time at RCTC, they (instructors) helped guide me a lot. They’re really awesome and I will definitely keep in touch with them. I’m really happy that I can still go to them.”

Art mentorship is crucial in a city like Rochester where the art community is booming, but galleries are not.

C4 Salon has closed along with SEMVA Art Gallery (set to find a new location this summer).

In spite of that, Brown says “the local arts have become stronger,” and artists do still find a way to connect with each other and display their work.

This past March, Brown had her work exhibited in a gallery in Decorah, Iowa.

The Emerging Artist Exhibition at the Art Haus chooses from a pool of applicants ranging in age from 18-25 and within a 150-mile radius to be featured.

Brown talking about her photos in the RCTC Art Gallery.

Brown talking about her photos in the RCTC Art Gallery.

And Brown was able to not only display two pieces of work (she submitted three), but even sold one.

“It’s kind of hard to let go of it, but I am happy the people who bought it are art lovers, and they collect artwork form local, regional, and national artists,” says Brown. “And it won’t be in storage or something.”

Before her gallery debut, Brown had displayed artwork at Café Steam in downtown Rochester, as well as the RCTC Art Gallery.


We Once Wept.

It’s challenging enough to create art, but getting it displayed or making a living off of it is even more difficult.

But that won’t deter Brown from heading to Minnesota State University, Mankato in the fall to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography or painting or both. Art is just too important.

“I think it’s helpful in self-expression, and helping others learn about others, and also about themselves,” Brown explains.

Aside from continuing to grow as an artist and display at different shows and galleries, Brown may one day become a mentor like her RCTC instructors.



“I think (at the) college level, I can make more of an impact,” she says. “The students are choosing to be in in your class, are motivated, and in tune to what they want. It would be easier and more fun to teach older ages through art, but also working to display my artwork and make my artwork at the same time.”

She’s also drawn to museum curation. Brown currently works at the Rochester Art Center at the front desk, but needs to know about the galleries and provide more than just secretarial work.

Figuring out the future may end up being easier than that painting she was stuck on for months.

With layers of blue, the canvas was an ocean of possibilities. Brown stumbled upon a gemstone, Labradorite. She had never been interested much in stones, but the story behind this particular one clung to her. Amidst confusion, she found a serendipitous moment that led to synchronicity – the very meaning behind Labradorite.18601248_652929411574595_1261936228_n

Soon after finishing the difficult piece, it became one of Brown’s exhibits at the Art Haus, the very first one she’d sell, proving that art is a door to unknown possibilities.

But like Jacobsen said – you just have to do it.

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