Artist Spotlight: Elizabeth Coleman

Upcoming graduate showcasing her artwork in Gallery 125

Elizabeth Coleman, 23, is graduating from Inver Hills Community College this May with her Associate of Arts (A.A.) with Emphasis in Anthropology. Elizabeth is having a busy spring semester. Her exhibition, Human Expression, is showing until May in Gallery 125 in the Fine Arts building on the college’s campus in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

Two of her artworks, I don’t think you want to play that game (Mixed media: charcoal, India ink, pen and ink on watercolor paper, 2022) and release me (Charcoal on sanded Bristol board, 2022), were shown during April this year in Reflections, an international juried virtual group exhibition at the Royal Blue Gallery.

Royal Blue Gallery: Reflections

Elizabeth appreciated the chance to exhibit her work on a global stage via Reflections. “It is such an honor to showcase two pieces that I hold close to my heart among the pieces of so many other talented artists from around the world,” she said.

She is equally excited about having her own show at Gallery 125. “I am so incredibly thankful to the faculty and staff at Inver Hills for this opportunity to share so many pieces of my heart with the entire college community and hopefully touch their hearts as well,” she said. “We all are human, after all!”

Human Expression Artist Statement

Elizabeth Coleman

Human Expression represents the culmination of Elizabeth’s artwork over the last six years.

The Inver Hills Fine Arts department presents Elizabeth Coleman Solo Exhibition (2023), Human Expression, which displays a series of multimedia artwork. Between charcoal, acrylic, scratchboard, and oil, each medium explores different aspects of interest.

Tension, emotion, and expression are common themes within the charcoal and scratchboard series. Her paintings capture the expression and appearance of humans, ideas, and lighting; she especially enjoys exploring how one might present feelings and experiences through visual arts.

Coleman began art from an early age. In middle school and high school, she submitted her artwork to local galleries and student exhibitions, winning first place for her age group in 2017 [2017 Young Artist Exhibition presented by PrimeTrust Federal Credit Union: 1st Place Winner in 9th–12th Grade Category: Do You See Me? in colored pencil.]

Since then, she took a break to explore her writing and has since returned to art, post-COVID. Two of her pieces are were displayed in Reflections, a juried virtual exhibition in the United Kingdom’s Royal Blue Gallery. This summer, Elizabeth will have a piece in a local show, Otherworldly Arts Collective Unicorn Art Show 8.

Early work collides with Coleman’s dance background by transferring the physical expression into 2D. Recently, her work has shifted into a more nuanced integrated experience. She explores the intricate relationship between the human condition, emotional evocation, and the beauty of everything around us.

Human Expression at Gallery 125

Elizabeth’s life at Inver and beyond…

Elizabeth Coleman

Elizabeth added the Anthropology emphasis to her A.A. degree after taking Cultural Anthropology for fall semester 2022. She found that anthropological concepts helped her better understand her own ideas about art, society, and the world.

“The content was so intriguing,” she recalled. “I talked with Dr. Katie Nelson, my anthropology instructor, and she recommended I pursue the Anthropology emphasis. So, this spring semester, I am taking Biological Anthropology with lab, Medical Anthropology, and an anthropology independent study course. Some of the content of my studies I presented at the Annual Research Conference in April.”

Elizabeth is president of the Dungeons & Dragons Club at Inver Hills. She serves as the dungeon master, or DM, and loves the camaraderie, creativity, and sheer fun of playing the fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG).

“I started playing D&D in the winter of 2020–2021,” Elizabeth said. “I had always wanted to learn, so when a friend reached out to start a campaign with myself and three other party members, it seemed like a great opportunity. It wasn’t until this summer that I tried my hand at DMing, running a one-shot for my main party, and now consistently for the club here at Inver Hills.

When asked what she likes best about D&D, she said, “It’s difficult to choose! Overall, I enjoy acting and role-playing the most, especially with other players. There’s an element of vulnerability that goes into creating/discovering a character, and it reveals a lot about yourself as well.”

Learn more about Dungeons & Dragons Club at Inver by reading the Inver Hills News story:

Student Club Spotlight: D&D Club

After graduating in May 2023, Elizabeth will be taking a gap semester to spend three months this fall in Germany visiting her sister, Maryabigail. Elizabeth is looking forward to applying to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) programs at the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).

“I also plan to dual-major in Indigenous Studies with a possible minor in Anthropology in addition to my B.F.A. degree,” she said. “My long-range career plans are centered on pursuing art in higher education, but I am undecided about if or when I will pursue a master’s degree. I would also like to publish novels in the YA, fantasy, and/or thriller mystery genres. Other than that, I am happy to see where life takes me—happy happenstance, if you will.”

“I desire to create artwork that helps the viewer feel something, to be more connected to themselves and those around them.”
Elizabeth Coleman
Artist and Anthropology Major
Inver Hills Community College

Faculty perspectives

“Elizabeth’s work is brave, reflective and exploratory. In her current show in Gallery 125, she fuses personal history with our common human condition as an experienced body. Through this lens, she constructs complex, multilayered compositions that explore the range and potentials of drawing and painting as uniquely expressive mediums.

“Her current body of work speaks to her deep commitment to her craft and genuine sense of curiosity, passion, and insight for finding a visual voice for what makes us all tick. I am so proud of what Elizabeth has accomplished over her time here at Inver Hills, and I know that she will go on to do great things!”

Rob Kolomyski
Department Chair: Art, Music, Theatre
Painting and Drawing Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

“In completing her Associate of Arts with Emphasis in Anthropology at Inver Hills Community College, Elizabeth has taken several of my courses. I have had the pleasure to watch her grow academically, intellectually, and artistically.

“Not only is she an exceptional student, she also has strong ethnographic insight, a driven intellectual curiosity, and remarkable leadership skills that will carry her far in life. Watch out for Elizabeth Coleman in the years to come!”

Katie Nelson, PhD
Anthropology Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

More about Elizabeth…

Originally from Muncie, Indiana, Elizabeth graduated from Burris Laboratory School, Class of 2018. Elizabeth’s dad, Neal, is a doctor who focuses on spinal pain care, and her mom, Susan, is the music director at St. Francis Catholic Church in Muncie.

Elizabeth’s latest work as yet untitled

Elizabeth has one sister, Maryabigail, and three brothers, Neal, Peter, and Gabriel. All three brothers are married; Neal has two kids; Peter has three.

“And I have niece and nephew dogs,” Elizabeth mentioned. “My family lives all over from Muncie to Chicago to Denver to Indianapolis to St. Paul to Münster, Germany.”

Elizabeth’s favorite pet, a Gordon setter named Solo, passed away. “Currently I have three fish tanks with a betta fish named Balthazar Vine Deloria Jr, several schools of platys: Tsukiko, Kokopeli, Charlamagne (died), Nietzsche, Fibonacci, Kierkegaard, Lone Ranger (first surviving baby platy), Peabert 1 and Peabert 2, and Merry and Pipin, the latter two given to a friend.”

Elizabeth loves art and writing. In her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking—pretty much anything outdoors—going to coffee shops, and reading books.

Elizabeth resides in St. Paul.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her artist’s website:

E Coleman Art

Elizabeth life and college gallery

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Elizabeth Coleman  Q & A

Elizabeth Coleman
What inspired you include the Emphasis in Anthropology in your A.A. degree?

While taking Cultural Anthropology with Dr. Katie Nelson, my anthropology instructor, we discussed differences and similarities between humans that intrigued me and connected so many concepts I’ve been wrestling. Anthropology provides the tangible side to many of my personal philosophical and theological musings.

What do you love most about painting and drawing?

I love getting messy with it and seeing how each piece becomes its own thing. While I may have an idea, ultimately, the emotion and universe bring together the final product—I am simply a medium for art to be expressed.

Three words that describe you as an artist:

What advice would you give students thinking taking art courses at Inver Hills?

DO IT! Whatever you do, no matter how you feel about your “skill level,” it is such a wonderful experience. Art can be a way to decompress, relieve stress, and lose yourself when life is difficult. You may be surprised with how much you’ll learn and grow and enjoy it!

What are the most challenging aspects of completing a work of art?

I would say the hardest part is fighting resistance. Stephen Pressfield calls the force that hinders creators from their craft Resistance and it is a daily—even hourly—battle to fight the perfectionism, negative internal voices, and illusion of not enough time. I am someone who can become bored and discouraged with my art if it starts to not turn out how I wanted or imagined, but it is important to keep showing up and trust the process.

What are your highest aspirations as an artist?

There isn’t anything so concrete in my mind that I’d like to achieve. However, it would be fulfilling to know that my art has reached many people, touched their hearts, and can continue to do so after I am gone.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

This answer may be cliché to some, but I am a deeply spiritual person, so I have found the most influence from our Holy Creator. Ultimately, I have seen the Creator’s influence in support and encouragement from those around me who have played major roles in my formation and decisions that have helped form the person I am today.

Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?

Hopefully, a parent to a bustling home of little humans, dedicating my energy to art/writing, and advocating for the things I am passionate about.

Elizabeth Coleman 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Soccer/football; I also enjoy running and dancing
  2. Place you would most like to visit: I want to travel so many places it’s hard to choose one; one country I have always wanted to visit is Japan to experience the beauty of its natural environment
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: I’m not sure I could choose—there have been fortunate to experience so many wonderful and exciting things! Top two at the moment are 1) traveling and spending New Year of 2017–18—I literally believe it saved my life, seeing how big the world truly is; 2) one summer night in 2021, some friends and I went to a small, hidden beach in Wisconsin; there was something so peaceful and grounding about floating in the river, sounds defended and lights from a distant plant reflected off the black water
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: I feel like I would be very practical ? 1) Financial hygiene; set aside a chunk for savings/investments; pay off loans, donate money to several organizations, perhaps help a few close family friends with financial support 2) Schedule either a long trip or several shorter trips over a long period of time to travel the world 3) Maybe use it to move some place I love or buy a vacation home in a BEAUTIFUL location
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: Braiding Sweetgrass will be a book I talk about until I am no longer able to; It changed the way I view the beautiful world we live in and put words to some of the deepest feelings I have
  6. Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: Honestly, I’d love to travel to the North American continent/Turtle Island while Homo sapiens were first migrating across the land; I’d love to see the pristine environment, how different it is to us today, and experience it outside of the social and cultural context of the present
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: Be a published author (and, now an accomplished artist!)
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Hahaha, I was just thinking about my favorite bird the other day; I love blue jays and red-winged blackbirds; ducks are one of my favorite animals; but I would probably have to go with either a pileated woodpecker or blue jay
  9. Dream occupation: Full-time job of being human! I can spend my days in leisure, doing art and writing and living slow 
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Honestly, there isn’t anyone I’d especially like to meet; Perhaps Robin Wall Kimmerer so we can discuss her book, or William James so we can discuss his philosophical thoughts
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Regarding art, I would LOVE to learn to create hyperrealistic, but that may not ever happen if it’s not my style
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: I always say that if there was one thing I could remove from existence, it would be greed; but ultimately, I think I would fix the inward-focus that plagues so many societies, so we can focus on creating a future for those who come after us (there is a concept some indigenous peoples hold called the Seventh Generation Principle that influenced this mindset)
Learn more about Anthropology and Art at Inver Hills by contacting:

Inver Hills Community College
Virtual Visit

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