A student who thinks outside the box: Perham High School artist's work displayed at Minnesota Senate building

Sadie Shippee, a Perham High School senior, drew a colorful turtle with different west-central Minnesota motifs represented on its shell. Her art will be displayed in the state Senate building.

SadieShippee_my MN_.jpg
Sadie Shippee's artwork for the "My District, My Minnesota" art competition features a turtle with outdoor and agricultural activities drawn on its shell.
Contributed / Peder Butenhoff
Sadie Shippee holds up a portrait she drew for Perham High School's participation in the Memory Project. Students drew portraits of orphans from other countries for the project. The orphaned children were then gifted the artwork.
Contributed / Perham Public Schools

PERHAM — Students walking the halls of Perham's schools continue to prove their excellence time and time again. One student will even have that excellence on display to the entire state of Minnesota. Sadie Shippee, a 17-year-old Perham High School senior, will have her artwork hung up inside the Minnesota Senate building outside of Rep. Jordan Rasmusson's office for the next year.

"(Being recognized as an artist) was really weird because this is my first year that I've actually done an art class, so most of my art has just been in my room or on my home refrigerator," Shippee said. "So seeing my art up in our library or in the Senate building was like, 'Woah! That's weird.'"

The unique opportunity came her way because she entered a drawing in the "My District, My Minnesota" art competition. Her task was to create an image that represents where she lives in Minnesota. As a Perham student, Shippee had to consider what specifically represents District 9 and west-central Minnesota.

"I was like, 'Okay, what's in our district?'" Shippee explained the thought process behind her art piece — a colorful drawing of a turtle with different outdoor and agricultural activities represented within its shell.

Shippee continued, "There's farming. There's lakes. There's the turtle races … One of the pictures in the shell is actually a picture of me that I drew skiing. … The tractor in there — that was my grandfather's tractor. The hiking and the lake — we live next to a lake. And (I drew) a bunch of other stuff that just personally connected with me."


Peder Butenhoff, Shippee's art teacher, finds that projects such as this one make for good educational opportunities, especially for students who may be interested in pursuing commercial or graphic arts in the future. In those specific industries, you often have a client who will ask you to create an image under certain parameters with a specific message in mind, much like in "My District, My Minnesota."

This painting of a woman with dark curly hair by Sadie Shippee is one of the many pieces of art she's completed and shared.
Contributed / Sadie Shippee

Though Shippee plans to study chemistry and pediatrics, she also hopes to have a jewelry business on the side one day — already personalizing her own earrings, charms and rings. So, while this project is also good artistic fun, it also prepares her for the future.

A jack-of-all-trades, Shippee keeps busy in several different school activities outside of art, including speech, knowledge bowl and even robotics. She also dabbles in a bit of everything when it comes to art — even outside of drawing and jewelry-making. She takes pictures, creates digital animation, paints and more.

"I've been doing art since I was in elementary school," Shippee said. "I was given a lot of resources early on, but I also did it outside of class. My mom really likes art as well, so I think that also helped me get into it."

Sadie Shippee has a love for nature, and that love tends to transfer into the art that she creates.
Contributed / Sadie Shippee

Though she will try out any kind of artwork, she's particularly drawn to drawing portraits of other people. She even participated in the Memory Project for Perham High School, in which she drew a child's portrait as a gift . In a short amount of time, she's managed to make an impact on her art teacher as well.

"It's been nice to have (Shippee) in classes," said Butenhoff "She puts in something that's hard to find in a lot of students. She puts a lot of thought into what she wants to create and makes things very original. That's a nice thing. It's a unique attribute, having a student that can think outside the box, develop their own compositions, concepts and things. So that's a nice treat."

Now, people from all across the state of Minnesota will be able to see the ways in which she thinks outside the box, all displayed in her colorful "West Central Turtle" at the Senate building.

Elizabeth (she/her), 24, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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