Pastel colors and melancholy themes blended in the Kruk Gallery, as recent University of Wisconsin-Superior graduate Emily Koch held her first exhibition titled “Trauma Queen.”

For such an amazing feat, Koch has the community that she found at UWS to thank.

‘Trauma Queen’ had many people attend, including those who were featured in her paintings.

“In 2019 I took a painting class here (UWS) with Susan Maguire. It totally changed my life,” said Koch. “It absolutely set me on the trajectory that I am on now. I love the experience that I had here as a student. The professors here supported me in so many ways, it’s unbelievable really. Everything in that gallery has something to do with my experience here at UWS.”

Each portrait plays with pinks, greens, and purples in a unique way to make the originally fun pallet into something darker.

Some familiar faces to UWS even appear, like senior student Heriette Soderlind, as everyone that’s depicted is someone who lives around the Twin Ports.

Koch used projections in both her immersive pillow fort and cake displays.

Although “Trauma Queen” is a love letter to the people that have affected Koch’s life in a positive way, Koch felt isolated when she started the series, stating, “These were created during a time where I was very isolated, so I think the solo subject really captures that feeling. It is a show about nostalgia and childhood memories; it is about struggle, it’s about all different aspects of life. 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.”

“Trauma Queen” will be available throughout the rest of the semester in the Kruk Gallery. Unfortunately, as of Nov. 18, the adult sized pillow fort with projections was closed down as it was only available for a limited