Pinks, greens, and purples fill the KRUK Gallery in the Holden Fine Arts building as University of Wisconsin-Superior graduate Emily Koch returns with her exhibition ‘Trauma Queen.’

The gallery showcases paintings that are love letters to friends and people that live around the Twin Ports, with themes heavily revolving around the child-like wonder in a painful adult world.

“Self Portrait” by Emily Koch | Photo by Drew Kerner

“It is a show about nostalgia and childhood memories; it is about struggle, it’s about all different aspects of life,” said Koch. “There’s a lot of joyful things inside. There’s a lot of dark things inside. It’s kind of an experience itself that you can take on a rollercoaster, and hopefully help you look a little deeper inside yourself.”

With the pastel pallet, each painting on the wall reinforced a higher sense of joy that contrasted with sadden, almost melancholy feeling that felt eerie. Koch explains how her art captures this isolated feeling.

“These were created during a time where I was very isolated, so I think the solo subject really captures that feeling,” said Koch.

“The Fort” by Emily Koch will only be available for a limited time | Photo by Drew Kerner

‘Trauma Queen’ dives further into child-like wonder, as one portion of her exhibit is an immersive pillow fort. 

“I’m a really strong believer that as adults, we don’t really have enough opportunity to engage in play. That was my attempt to invite adults into a space that can take you back to that child-like memory of just the pure unfiltered joy. You know, the mystery of walking into a pillow fort; something that was made by hand. It’s just my attempt to help adults reconnect with their child-like joy,” said Koch.

This adult sized pillow fort is only available until Nov. 18; however, the rest of the exhibit will stay up until winter break. 

In the KRUK Gallery, Drew Kerner, The Promethean.

Many people appreciated Koch’s art during the open house on Nov. 4 | Photo by Drew Kerner