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Past Exhibitions | 2021

Each year, Rochester Art Center presents a wide array of contemporary art exhibitions. These exhibitions offer visitors the opportunity to connect with art by local, regional, and nationally working artists. 


May 12, 2021 – May 12, 2022

"Counterspaces" is a collective healing project for Rochester community members who have been impacted by the existing and increasing acts of racialized violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). This space is dedicated for listening to the stories, thoughts, and feelings of marginalized community members. This space is also for all members to creatively share their thoughtful responses. Counterspaces are “safe social spaces… which offer support and enhance feelings of belonging”* in marginalized individuals existing in spaces that are not made with them in mind. A counterspace is much more than just one of safety. It is a place of possibility for empowerment and transformation. And it is more than just a space of survival; as it is a space where critiques of and understandings on how oppression operates at the local level are collectively understood and acted upon at the larger, structural one. This project was created in partnership with UMR.


On Water | David Bowen

February 24, 2021 – June 6, 2021

"On Water" is an exhibition of artworks that rely on data and robotics to reflect the infinite ways we impact and are impressed by water. Using intersections between natural and mechanical systems, David Bowen produces unique relationships within his sculpture and installation. With robotics, custom software, sensors, tele-presence and data, he constructs devices and situations that are set in motion to interface with the physical and virtual world.


Bubbles | Preston Drum

June 04, 2021 - October 17, 2021

"Bubbles" is a site-specific installation in the Davies Gallery at Rochester Art Center that combines painting, sculpture, and video to create an immersive facsimile of an American domicile. Drawing dual inspiration from his son’s first word and the pervasive social condition the pandemic has brought upon us, Drum explores notions of domestic life inside a bubble. Through nonlinear storytelling, the events of a never-ending day are stitched together to create a portrait of family.


50 by 50+ | Debra DSouza

December 8, 2021 – January 30, 2022

This exhibition features fifty glass mandalas by “older adult” community members (50+) created during a series of workshops led by artist Debra D’Souza. This project provides a learning experience while building confidence and helping alleviate stress in the participants.


Vast | Joy Blewett

March 31, 2021 - May 23, 2021

Born and raised in south Minneapolis, Joy Blewett’s love for the arts was nurtured by her father and frequent trips to local art museums. From the moment she could hold a crayon, she was drawing and painting, dreaming of an artist’s life. After graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she worked as an Art Director and Graphic Designer for clients that included Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Macy’s, Como Park Zoo, and The Children’s Theatre Company. After illustrating for The Phoenix Spirit and facilitating art events for the non-profit organization Big Brothers, Big Sisters, she returned to her love for the visual arts with a new focus on teaching. At the University of Minnesota she completed a Master’s degree in Visual Arts Education and became a licensed art teacher in 2013. She now resides in Rochester and teaches art at Bonner Elementary School in Stewartville.


75 Years in the Making

January 27, 2021 - June 16, 2021

The Rochester Art Center was established in 1946 to give citizens and visitors of Rochester the opportunity to know, practice and enjoy the arts, to show the vital relationship of the arts to our daily lives, and to join with other community groups to make Rochester a cultural center worthy of its scientific achievement. November 15, 2021 marks our seventy-fifth year of meeting this mission.


The Human Scale

July 9, 2021 – October 24, 2021

What does it mean to be human? Individually and collectively, where are we headed and on what paths have we traveled to arrive at this moment? Each of the artists presented here approaches these foundational questions from unique perspectives, using an array of methods, with answers that often take the form of more questions. The Human Scale uses art to tell a story of the human being that embraces all of our contradictions, ambiguities and eccentricities. The most direct way to consider our “scale” is our size, but we can also look at scale from the perspective of time, or our lifespans, or the way we function as a singular organism, or as a group. The Human Scale also explores the different ways in which artists depict the human form, or less tangible aspects of ourselves such as consciousness or emotion. This exhibition is firmly rooted in our present moment, and, taken as a whole, offers one possible version of where and what we are right now. Curated by Ryan Fontaine and Kristin Van Loon from HAIR + NAILS Gallery.


Ghosts of the Negative | Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa

July 28, 2021 - November 14, 2021

"Ghosts of the Negative" is an intimate examination of a complicated family archive: a collection of photos taken by my great-grandfather, Satoru. He was a photographer for the Japanese army during the invasion of China in World War II. His purpose in the occupation was to document the impressive might of Japan’s military for the homeland: the creation of propaganda. Instead, Japan’s subsequent loss to the United States cast a shadow of shame and disgrace over the images. This exhibition was produced in partnership with the MCAD MFA program.


Who Is She? | Jennifer Jesseph

March 17, 2021 – July 11, 2021

Jennifer Jesseph is a poet and self-taught fiber and mixed media artist living in rural Pine Island, Minnesota. Jennifer has been working on fiber art in the two dimensional form for the past four years. She enjoys working in abstract portraits and has been currently doing this with watercolors, acrylics, and oil paints. Through her portraits she aims to empower both the subject and the viewer.


We Are Water MN

March 11, 2021 – May 9, 2021

"We Are Water MN" deepens connections between the humanities and water through a network of partnerships, a traveling exhibit, and public events. "We Are Water MN" helps communities, organizations, and individuals make better, more collaborative, and more relevant choices about water.

This traveling exhibit examines water issues statewide and in local communities through personal stories, histories, and scientific information. It strengthens Minnesotans’ relationships with water, exposes visitors to new perspectives, and increases participation in water stewardship activities. Learn more about upcoming activities and related local exhibits:


Building Collections to Connect | Ruth Mikos

June 30, 2021 - November 28, 2021

"I am a collector.

Ever since I was little I have been “junking”. This is the term my mom would use when she would pack my younger brother and I into the car at dawn, with our pillows and blankets, to go hunt for treasures at some obscure converted school house, deserted barn, small town store, or antique show. We would spend hours wandering rows of old things that positively radiated mystery and intrigue.

Building on these childhood memories, this exhibition explores why something that is disposable to one person can be indispensable to another.

What is the connection between the collector and the collection? While interviewing collectors, a common theme emerged: Connection. Connection to the past, to a time they wanted to preserve, and to people who have touched their lives. These collections are not mere objects. They are portals to another place, another time; they are a glimpse into a life story."


Home of Memories

May 19, 2021 – August 29, 2021

The Rochester Art Center welcomes the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP) to present a travelling exhibition exploring homemaking and memories in the portraits of Iraqi Minnesotans by Iraqi Minnesotan photographers Ahmed Alshaikhli and Jaafar Alnabi. Curated by CarryOn Homes (Peng Wu, Shun Jie Yong, Zoe Cinel). The portraits and stories featured in "Home of Memories" give us a complex and intimate portrayal of what home was, is, and what it can be. We invite visitors to reflect on the theme of home by bringing a photograph to be collectively displayed on a journey wall along with a shared memory.


Virtual Galleries

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Homecoming Queen: The Wonderful World of Utica Queen

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75th Anniversary Exhibition

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