MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Minot State alumna Rosanne Olson returns to the Magic City with the opening of “Rosanne Olson: A Creative Life,” a retrospective exhibition at the Northwest Arts Center, located on Minot State University’s campus.
According to a news release, on view from Oct. 6 to Nov. 26, “A Creative Life” features film, digital photographs, and a small selection of mixed media artworks.
The exhibition reflects a body of works that continually modify as life experiences change the artist.
The artist will also facilitate a conversation about the role of creativity at Main Street Books on Oct. 6 beginning at 5 p.m. and speak about her work at the exhibition’s public reception at the Northwest Arts Center on Oct. 11 from 6-8 p.m.
From her childhood in Minot, Olson has lived a life immersed in creativity and has discovered there is art in cooking, music, and poetry — in living.
“All art is about connection, either with oneself or others,” she said.
An artist, photographer, and author, Olson first discovered photography as an art at the age of 23 while studying a drop of blood under a microscope.
Ever since then, she has been in love with creating beautiful imagery.
“With the right light and sensitive timing, a photograph can convey so much more than words ever could,” she said. “It can move us to action, move us to tears, inspire us, and preserve our memories.”
Olson received her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from Minot State before pursuing her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon.
“Just out of high school, I knew I wanted to be an artist though I wasn’t sure what that meant,” she said. “My parents did not see things the same way. I needed to be practical and make a living, they insisted. I enjoyed chemistry, but I was still stubbornly seeking the arts. I took 19 hours of credits per term, including summers, so I could incorporate classes in art, art movies, English, and poetry into my rigorous major.
“One of the classes I took in my years in the science department was a photomicrography class in which I photographed the sci-fi world one finds under a microscope. The darkroom was magic. I loved the quiet, the eerie red light, smell of chemicals. It never occurred to me that one could make a creative life out of photography. To me, at that time, science was science and art was painting or drawing. I would eventually learn differently.”
Olson’s life changed when she took a photography class at Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene, Oregon.
”Though I loved working closely with the patients during my five years in nuclear medicine, I began to realize it was not something that could sustain me,” she said. ”Photography began to take over my life as I spent almost every evening in the darkroom at the art center. I decorated the working area of our small medical department with some of my photographs.”
In 1978, she signed up for a typography class at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and, again, found another part of herself.
”I fell in love with the class for no other reason than that I loved letter forms, a tie-in to my years of making posters in high school and college and my more recent studies of calligraphy,” she said. ”I started to explore the idea of going to graduate school. To apply, I had to take the Graduate Records Exam. I worried myself into a puddle, studying for weeks, living in dread. But in the end, I passed the tests easily.
”My education at Minot State stood me in good stead.”
During her 40-year career, Olson has worked in multiple genres of photography, including newspaper, magazine editorial, advertising, and fine art.
As an educator, she has taught lighting and portraiture for more than 20 years at organizations such as Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle, Sante Fe Workshops, colleges, high schools, and conferences.
Her commercial clients have included New York City Ballet, Seattle Symphony, and the Seattle Opera.
Olson’s images have garnered numerous awards and have been featured in Communication Arts, Photo District News, More Magazine, View Camera Magazine, and more.
Her work was recently featured in Graphis Issue 362, an international magazine of the arts.
Her fine art photography is represented by the Robin Rice Gallery in New York City and Iris Gallery in Boston.
She is also the author of three books, including “This is Who I Am: Our Beauty in All Shapes and Size” — a book about women anybody image — which was featured on “Good Morning America.”
She has also written two instructional books for the courses she teaches: “ABCs of Beautiful Light” and “The Art of the Portrait.”
Olson is also a poet and songwriter. She released an album in 2018 and is currently at work on a second one.
On Thursday, Oct. 6 from 5-7 p.m., Olson will be at Main Street Books, located in Downtown Minot for Rosanne Olson: A Conversation on Creativity and Fulfillment to discuss the role of creativity in our lives.
She will be joined by Margaret Moore, a psychotherapist from Deerfield, Illinois, and Ted McMahon, a physician and poet from Seattle.
The evening will include a free-ranging discussion in which everyone is invited to participate with their ideas and stories about the many manifestations of creativity.
A public reception and online viewing of “A Creative Life” are scheduled on Tuesday, Oct. 11 from 6-8 p.m. at the Northwest Arts Center.
Both exhibition and reception are free and open to the public, Olson will be speaking about her work and the exhibit at 7 p.m.
Masks are not required, but individuals who are not fully vaccinated or deemed vulnerable are encouraged to continue to wear masks.
While at the Northwest Arts Center, the exhibition will be available for viewing Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturday from 1-5 p.m.
The Center is closed on holidays.
The Walter Piehl Gallery is located on the lower level of the Gordon B. Olson Library at Minot State University, with its own entrance on the south side of the library.
The exhibition and related events are free and open to the public.
“Rosanne Olson: A Creative Life” is supported in part by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The MSU Development Foundation also helped fund the exhibition.