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Blugold artist finds creative way to share messages around equity, diversity and inclusion

| Judy Berthiaume

Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire graduate Amy Krause draws from her life experiences as she uses her art to create awareness around issues relating to equity, diversity and inclusion. (Submitted photo)

During her 15-year-career as a professional artist, Amy Krause has worn any number of hats — from visual artist to writer to photographer to stay-at-home-mom — as she finds creative ways to share her messages around equity, diversity and inclusion.

“I want to use art to let others know they are seen, heard and known,” says Krause, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2007 with a degree in fine arts-painting. “Art can bridge the gap across all walks of life to cultivate understanding and spark real change.”

A self-described “heart-centered artist,” Krause draws on her personal experiences in her work, which she says is “an outward expression of who I am at my core.”

“My work is informed by my experiences and incorporates the many facets of my life,” Krause says. “My ultimate goal is to use art to build connections, foster growth and promote healing.”

Inspired by her life experiences

Krause, a native of Eau Claire who now lives with her family in Rochester, Minnesota, says her body of work is informed by her experiences as an Asian American adoptee.

Her personal experiences with racism inspired her to advocate for marginalized communities and promote representation, Krause says. Her goal, she says, is to use her art to bring awareness to issues of discrimination and inequity.

Krause also is an advocate for mental health and wellness, saying she has gone through her own journey of “healing personal trauma and deep grief.”

“Art has been a pathway to healing and it is my mission to use art to help others know they are not alone,” Krause says. “I am also a parent to a child with a disability and this has strengthened my drive to use art to create more diverse, inclusive and equitable spaces.”

Forging her own path

Several years ago, Krause established her own art business, A. Krause Studio, which gives her the flexibility to work on projects that align with her passions, while also being home with her three children, now ages 18, 14 and 7.

“It allows me the space to pursue multiple endeavors and show up well for my family,” says Krause, adding that among her future goals is to write and illustrate a book.

“As a small business owner, I often take on various roles that help make my business operate smoothly,” Krause says. “Two of those roles include writing copy and taking product photos, skills that opened doors to other opportunities within and adjacent to my field.”

In addition to her in-home business, Krause also is a freelance writer and photographer for a Rochester-based publication called Rochester Women Magazine. The magazine, which she calls an “amazing local publication,” is an opportunity for her to share her passions for creating art and for cooking. In addition to her art and freelance work, she also is a group fitness instructor.

Rochester murals

An advocate for the city of Rochester and its arts community, Krause is involved in multiple projects, including painting murals on concrete Jersey barricades as part of the Downtown Sidewalk Experience Enhancement Project through the city and Destination Medical Center. Ten artists were selected for the community project, with each artist creating 10 murals.

“Working alongside nine other Rochester-based artists, we created 100 total murals,” Krause says of the murals that were unveiled in mid-May. “The barricades will be in a central downtown area during sidewalk renovations this summer. The murals will be a way to encourage foot traffic in the area during construction and create a safe walking space for pedestrians.”

Organizers of the project say that the paintings on the barriers will add color and vibrancy to the construction site, which is in a part of the city that attracts many local residents and visitors.

Krause is especially excited to be part of the mural project because it’s a “great way to foster connection between the city and the art community. I am encouraged and grateful to be a part of a community that understands the value of the arts and makes it a priority.”

The project also will help her work toward her goal, which is to “have my art reach a larger audience and create more meaningful conversations and connections,” she says.

Blugold connections

Describing her time at UW-Eau Claire as “overall a great experience,” Krause says the art & design faculty were “great teachers and mentors.”

“My time at UWEC helped give me a well-rounded worldview and education,” Krause says. “I was challenged in positive ways that fostered my critical thinking and life application skills. I really enjoyed the opportunity to pursue many different mediums and courses within my discipline.”

While she no longer lives in the Chippewa Valley, Krause still feels a strong connection to UW-Eau Claire. Her husband, Adam Krause, currently a nurse anesthetist, earned his undergraduate degree in nursing from UW-Eau Claire in 2007. And her mother-in-law, Geri Krause, is an associate counselor in Counseling Services at UW-Eau Claire.

Amy and Adam Krause were raising their oldest child, Elijah, while they were earning their undergraduate degrees. So, some of their earliest memories as a family are from the time they spent on and around the UW-Eau Claire campus.

“Elijah would spend time on campus with us visiting the planetarium and the James Newman Clark Bird Museum in Phillips Science Hall,” Krause says. “As he grew older, he would attend the campus preschool while my husband and I were in class. It was a very busy time in our lives between school, work and raising a child. Looking back, it is sometimes hard to comprehend the amount of grit and dedication it took to balance everything.”

Fifteen years later, the family is building new memories on campus because Elijah now is a Blugold. He just finished his first year of college at his parents’ alma mater, where he is studying actuarial science.

“It was such an emotional time bringing Elijah to college last fall,” Krause says. “He spent some of his earliest years on campus and has now finished his first year as a Blugold. It feels like a full circle moment in our lives and we couldn’t be prouder of all he has accomplished.”

Krause hopes current and future Blugolds can learn from her journey, which was sometimes difficult but always meaningful.

“Keep going for your dreams and never stop learning,” Krause says of her advice to Blugolds. “Life may take you down a path you weren’t expecting, but you are capable of achieving so much when you put your mind to it.”