Denver to Aitkin:
How has it affected me?
By Ashley Dwyer
Published May 22, 2019
Today marks five days left of my senior year. This September I was a bright-eyed senior, with a lot of ambition. I was ready to work hard at my art, and I was ready for new opportunities. Well, to get great opportunities, you need to work hard. Up until this year, I distanced myself from school activities because I felt like a sore thumb in this small town of Aitkin.
I moved here in 10th grade, with a few friends, but I slowly gained more and more throughout my years. I opened up, and I felt so comfortable, I even got a job at our local McDonald’s. I fell into a beautiful group of friends, who have really given me the inspiration to keep creating art.
I did grow up here, I went pre-K through 6th grade at Rippleside. I was a very shy, and a very awkward girl. I participated in our local girl scout troop, but even then I didn’t enjoy being involved. So when I moved back here in 2016, I had a lot of anxiety about coming back. I had lived in New Mexico and Colorado. I felt the most comfortable there, but Minnesota is a lot different than either of those places.
I started taking art classes here with Mrs. Meirose, and my art and her classroom were always around when I didn’t feel comfortable. I always had a place there, no matter the time. I worked with acrylic painting and started to practice, which turned out to be a talent. I had painted in multiple media, spent whole semesters on small canvases, and really started being detail oriented. I began taking art seriously.
During this senior year, I took civics class, which you need to graduate at Aitkin High School. We had a community service project which said we had to find something we liked to do and turn it into a service for the community. I began thinking about my talents and started to think about how I could use my art to benefit the community.
As November rolled around, I decided on my canvas size. It was going to be a mural. I still had no clue what to paint yet, or who it was going to. It was crazy because I had under two months for a large mural. I wasn’t alone though, Hannah Elliott was right next to me with the same size mural. We did it side by side so we could bounce ideas off of each other and we created two very different pieces of art. She did an ocean scene which featured an octopus, a mermaid, and a flag to remember Dawson by.
I ended up taking it home and painting a beautiful contrasting mountainscape with a dawn sunrise in the background. My heart almost called to be in Denver, looking at the beautiful mountainscape there. It reminded me of mornings I woke up early enough to sit in an empty parking lot and watch the sunrise. It was one of the most gorgeous sights I’ve seen, and so I titled this piece “Denver.”
It had been on a journey too, going to the regional competition in Cook. It didn’t win anything, but it was commented on for its beauty. I decided to put it in the Dawson Strong silent auction, which benefits our only art scholarship in Aitkin. At the time of writing this, I will have two days until a few art students and I are receiving the first visual arts letters. I’ve come so far in my years here, and I’m very blessed to be a part of the art club and to be involved with the Dawson Strong Scholarship. I am also very grateful for Mrs. Meirose and Mr. Miller for challenging me more than I could have imagined this year. It got me to appreciate our small town just a little more and now I can say I have a spot where I feel just at home in.