Suzann Beck’s ‘A Face of 2021’

A Face of 2021 by Suzann Beck, Pastel on Pastelcard, 24 x 21

This year I had the honor of serving as a juror for the drawing and pastels class at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition. Each year, the Exhibition proves an amazing showcase of amateur and professional artists representing the diversity and talent of Minnesota artists. This post is to highlight the artist who I awarded a third place ribbon: Suzann Beck and her pastel portrait, A Face of 2021.

Suzann’s portraiture skill is amazing, but she hit a chord on people’s collective heart strings with A Face of 2021. Such a timeless style to express the current year’s challenges. I was left wanting to know so much more about who the woman is and what kind of hopes she hides under her COVID mask. Below is what Suzann shared with me:

As you guessed, there is so much more story to Maggie, and it’s almost a shame to show her without that story. Maggie is a fellow artist and works with fiber and textiles ( She’s Ojibwe and makes the mask style she’s wearing based on traditional Ojibwe ribbon dresses (I think she was even recognized by the Smithsonian for them). She has a deep belief in her ability to work hard to become a success with her art.

And this piece almost didn’t get entered in the Fair because my framer forgot about it in their shop and piled heavy things on top of its box. Apparently the box collapsed and smudged the center of the piece all the way down the center. It was a mental discipline for me to sit back down at my easel with it and repair it—part way into it, I almost gave up. But something in me said it was one of my best pieces and I should stick it out. So here we are, at the Fair looking at my piece with the ribbon awarded—I almost felt like a kid again with my 4H project winning a ribbon!

A Face of 2021 speaks to me of the best efforts we have all taken to protect ourselves and others, never really knowing whether it is enough, and retaining our hopes and dreams through the our strength and resiliency.

If you attend the Fair this year, stop by the Fine Arts building at the corner of Randall and Cosgrove, otherwise take a look at the online catalog. Learn more about Suzann at Credit to the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association who commissioned the rights to use the digital image in their 2021 Art-A-Whirl event.