Works from the Women Art Institute Summer Studio Intensive 2019 (And Beyond)

Taking this course shaped my thinking as a woman artist and my approach to making art. I had majored in art history back in college but knew next to nothing about women’s place in art history other than their work being woefully underrepresented in galleries, museums, and collections. The world of art continues to be male-dominated.

The Women’s Art Institute (held at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota) brings together a diverse group of women and non-binary artists to explore important questions around our lives as artists. As part of the experience, morning sessions often began with a poem, from bell hooks, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, and many others. This brought richness to our discussion. We all miss the morning poems.

painting of a Northern Flicker sitting in snow

Facing Future

Color Pencil on Handmade Artisan Paper.
18” H x 24” W. Unframed I NFS  2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson

Grasshoppers can only jump forward, not backward or sideways. It is this quality that makes the grasshopper a universal symbol of good luck. Grasshoppers have an ability to connect and understand sound vibrations and for this the grasshopper is the symbol of the inner voice, to listen and trust it. For me, looking closely and intently at the form and structure that makes up a grasshopper, I find it a marvel of biological evolution. Looking into the eyes, she is as much a sentient being as you and I.


The Undertaker

Pen and Ink + Color Pencil on Butcher Paper
32.5” H x 29.5” W. Framed I $1000  SOLD
2021 © Kristin Maija Peterson

As an addition to Insectarium, an ink and color pencil drawing is of an American Carrion Beetle. I have never seen one in real life and I hope you never do either.

They are the beetles that care for the dead, be it deer, birds, or any life that has passed away. Not only do they eat the flesh but they also eat the fly larva that typically populates carcasses. As grim as that sounds, what the American Carrion Beetle does is invaluable. Their undertaking services help keep our environment clear of dead bodies and diseases that can come with that as well as keep the fly population in check.

I chose to experiment on butcher paper saved after purchasing shrimp for dinner. After washing the backside and flattening it out, the smell of shrimp is gone, I found butcher paper is lovely for pen and ink drawing and the tan color makes the colors pop.

When I draw insects, in particular, I pay attention to their eyes, to show the life behind the bug. In that way, I hope to incite curiosity and compassion for the insect world. With climate change and habitat loss, their numbers are thinning, too.

view of American Carrion artwork framed hanging above home office desk

Its Duty May Be Grim. Still, It’s a Beautiful Beetle.

Pen and Ink + Color Pencil on Butcher Paper (via Cub Foods)
32.5” H x 29.5” W. Framed I $1000  SOLD 2021 © Kristin Maija Peterson

WHILE NOT EVERYONE IS AN ENTHUSIAST or an Entomologist insects do make the world go round. Ignored, working invisibly, or freaking us out, insects are the most significant in biodiversity and purposes for keeping the balance in nature. Today insects are dangerously thinning in numbers.

Whenever I have had the opportunity to “show and tell” the story and making of The Undertaker, people are amazed by the detail, the fine hairs on the top of her head, her big eyes, and her intricate legs and antenna.

select artwork


colorful illustration of Japanese Beetle by Kristin Maija Peterson



Color Pencil + Ink on Artisan Paper
8” x 8” I Unframed I NFS
2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson

illustration representing the decline of honey bee populations

They Get All the Press


Watercolor + Color Pencil, Pastel, Tissue
on Handmade Artisan Paper
32” x 24” I Framed I $800
2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson

Rocket Man (Here Until the End of Time)


Color Pencil on Cason Drawing Paper
20” x 11” I Framed I NFS
2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson

drawing of huge dragonfly on handmade paper by Kristin Maija Peterson



Color Pencil on Handmade Artisan Paper
14.5” x 24” I Unframed I $400 USD
2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson



Detail View
2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson

garden doodle bug drawings by Kristin Maija Peterson

Doodlebug (aka Pill Bug, RolyPoly and Sow Bug)


Graphite + Color Pencil on Handmade Artisan Paper
11” x 8” I Unframed I NFS
2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson


At the beginning of WAI’s studio intensive, we were given an assignment. Draw ten pieces on intentional surfaces. After that, it was up to us to determine what that meant. There were those who did printmaking, ceramics, textiles, mixed media, and photography. Their approach to the assignment was shaped by the mediums they worked in.

Drawing has always been my first love and took the given assignment literally. I started thinking about a theme could I build a through-line across ten drawings. I had lots of handcrafted artisan papers I could choose intentionally. Insects, then biodiversity (of which we are losing at an alarming rate), invasions due to globalization, and the question “What is beauty?” ran through my head. I began researching insects, their qualities, and our attitudes towards them.

My approach is to show my subjects in grand light, in peril, and with grace if not beauty. Most of all, I wanted people to look and adjust their opinions towards insects in general. Their existence allows for our existence.

I regard myself as an ecological/environmental artist and had to ask the question of my fellow students, “Is environmentalism a feminist issue?” They responded “Yes!” Feminist issues are human issues and climate change, biodiversity, the health and well being of this planet and all those who inhabit it are very much human issues.


This is a course for contemporary women and non-binary artists of all ages and backgrounds who want to refine their artistic practice while exploring questions around women and art. It brings together a community that shares, reflects, and creates art. It is a rich experience that includes access to sunlit studio space, one-on-one coaching with faculty, presentations from guest artists, critics, and art historians from across the country to discuss a variety of issues and topics, and a way to deepen one’s own studio practice. To learn more, visit St. Catherine University, Women’s Art Institute.


10% of all Terra Kind Studio’s annual sales of original artwork and prints are donated to nonprofits working on environmental and climate change issues. By supporting this local artist, you can have beauty on your walls while doing good in the world.


All artwork shown on this website is protected by copyright law and can not be reproduced without expressed written permission by the artist.
If you like what you see here, be kind and share but don’t steal.


Terra Kind Studio showcases the creative work of visual artist and designer Kristin Maija Peterson. Growing up among prairies, lakes, rivers, and oak savannas along with her project work with environmental nonprofit organizations have collectively influenced her creative path. Kristin works in watercolor, graphite, color pencil, oil pastels and pen and ink, interpreting in detail the beautiful chaos within native wild spaces and its inhabitants found living there. She sees all living creatures as kin and is always kind to spiders.

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p: 651 318 7100

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