Art Over The Years: A Progression Of Skill And Identity

Sophie Pederson, Web Editor

The summer before ninth grade, I happened to be fooling around on technology (always a good idea) when I accidentally stumbled upon the Breezes webpage. I found myself captivated by both the stories and the images–the stories all seemed very well researched, and there were some truly stunning visuals accompanying them. I decided then and there to join Breezes. I hoped to improve my art skills, learn more about the world around me and perhaps even gain some recognition for my work.

While I can’t speak to the third of those points, I definitely
feel as though my art and understanding of the world has gotten better.

One of the biggest honors for an artist on the Breezes staff is getting to draw for the front page. Thus, I was incredibly excited to be assigned the front page art for Isabella Bennett and Wyatt Mosiman’s front page article, “The American Public School Taboo: Sex Education”. I was proud of my use of the glowing pink and (admittedly “stylized”) anatomy, and I enjoyed getting to draw from personal experiences. Everything I was taught about sex ed was centered around a cisgender, heterosexual, monogamous experience–it felt good to fight back against that a bit.

In tenth grade, I was promoted to Web Editor. I continued my work as an artist–I’m still particularly proud of my art for the article on climate change written by Sophie Moore–and found myself impressed with all of the articles and art I uploaded to the website. While I had considered writing an article myself, normality was disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic–which actually spurred a new idea for my writing.

In eleventh grade, I decided to write an article called “A Contemporary Analysis of Minnetonka’s Queer History”. While initially pitched for the first paper of the year, the 2000-word report took me over two months and a lot of emotional toil. The report was spurred on by the ongoing protests and the community effort that had also spurred on the district’s Goal 2, which aimed to promote inclusion “regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, [or] socioeconomic status”.


I wanted my art to act as a nod to the article on sex education: the figures in both are on the left, refusing to look at the problem. However, the new article used the skipper mascot instead of Uncle Sam to highlight Minnetonka’s problem specifically, and the glow was more rainbow than pink to represent the focus of the article. The style shifted, too: the glow is better defined, and the figure in question is turned rather than head on. Both the article and its art reflected a change in me as a person: just as my art got more technically skilled, my research ability and writing skills have improved significantly.


Now I’m in twelfth grade, writing my senior send-off. On May 2, Politico released an alleged draft of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. In this new decision, the majority opinion is that the right to privacy in regards to sexual and romantic relationships established in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) should not have played a role in the Roe v Wade decision (1973). Despite assurances that the predicted repeal of the right to privacy in relation to abortion would not influence other decisions, I could be personally affected by the overturning of decisions similarly based on one’s right to privacy. Obergefell v. Hodges, which decided gay marriage in 2015; Lawrence v. Texas, which found it unconstitutional to criminalize gay sex in 2003; and the original Griswold v. Connecticut decisions all hinge on the right to privacy. I’m queer, and, at the moment, I still have a uterus. I can’t say I have sufficient faith in the Supreme Court to protect my rights going forward.

I hope the sentiment is reflected in my art. It’s more busy and chaotic than the rest–I feel like this is an incredibly tremulous moment both in my life and for the nation at large. I wanted to highlight all of the figures and issues that have influenced my work and could potentially be impacted by the new supreme court ruling, should the draft or something similar be the final opinion. In light of all this, talking about the improvement in my art doesn’t feel right. The glow in the image feels more real, and Uncle Sam is better rendered. While this is a reflection of how my art has improved, a cynical part of me doesn’t want to comment on how the lighting treats Uncle Sam as more of a person while he treats me as less of one.

Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Van Dixhorn