SGHS Grad Year: 1997
Spring Grove High School graduate Molly Busta-Lange
was recently inducted into the prestigious Minnesota Music Hall of fame located in
New Ulm Minnesota on Saturday April 23, 2022.
Started in 1989 it has showcased musicians and educators who have contributed significantly to Minnesota music.
Over 200 inductees have been enshrined along with their music memorabilia.
Pictured is Molly B. and Don Wendel
(Spring Grove class of 1969)
JENNA (Landsom) PAULSEN
SGHS Grad Year: 2003
Describe your career journey since leaving Spring Grove Public Schools:
I attended St. Olaf College and majored in Studio Art and Norwegian, and then went on to get my MFA in Sustainable Interior Architecture from Columbia College Chicago. When I entered the workforce in 2007, it was uncommon (and difficult!) to go off on your own and make a living as an artist, so I sought out ways to incorporate my visual art skills into my "day" work. I worked in many companies and served lots of different roles – from Design Associate to Office Manager to Human Resources Specialist. I always had plenty of work in those positions, but I also figured out ways to incorporate creativity into my work – like taking on graphic design projects, and offering to select furniture, paint colors and artwork for office spaces. I continued to create art when I could find time, and slowly began to build up my art business starting in 2019. I enlisted the help of a business coach, and took advantage of some coursework on building an online art business. I left my "day job" in May of 2022, and am loving every day of my career as an artist!
Outstanding Highlights of your life including awards or recognition:
I've exhibited and sold my work throughout the country – one of the first (and favorite) places being at Bluff Country Artists Gallery in Spring Grove! A few notable homes for my work include a restaurant in Chicago, an environmental consulting office in Syracuse, and several pieces at a cancer treatment center in Upstate NY. Having my work on display for people in all walks of life and going through a variety of life circumstances is, for me, what this career is all about. My hope is that the landscapes I paint help to bring up positive memories and soothing thoughts for the viewer, and inspire thoughtful, responsible stewardship of our local landscapes.
Share strengths (lessons learned) from your years at Spring Grove Public School that may have shaped your life:
One of the things I appreciate most looking back on my education at Spring Grove Public Schools is that I had the opportunity to try everything. While I knew early on that I wasn't cut out to be an athlete, I participated in as many arts and volunteer organizations as I could. Band, Choir, Drama, Speech, and Youth Development were some of my favorites – and the balancing act of being a good student AND participating in many extracurriculars taught me to manage my time well and to work hard. As I made friends in college and grad school, I learned that it's much more difficult to participate in as many organizations – between scheduling difficulties and tryout requirements – at larger schools.
I am also grateful to my fantastic high school art teacher, Renee Eiken, for helping me succeed in many ways. She even lined up extra teaching support (by the very talented artist, Doris Morken) when I asked to pursue oil painting as an independent study! I believe the extra investment she made in my art education gave me the boost I needed to succeed in college and beyond.
Who influenced your life and how?
I'm inspired by individuals (there are so many of them out there!) who know what they want to do, and create their own path – even if it doesn't fall neatly into another field, company, or organization. A couple of creatives who came out of Spring Grove – the amazingly talented performer, Mollie B, and the successful artist Kelly Jean Ohl – are a couple of admirable creatives that I'm lucky to know! I have 2 creative friends where I live in Syracuse (a marriage & family therapist and a marketing entrepreneur) who have started their own creative businesses, and have been instrumental in encouraging me to invest in myself and start my own business.
What are your goals and aspirations that you have today?
I am working on new artwork nearly every day, and I have no shortage of ideas for new pieces to create next. The marketing and business side doesn't come as naturally to me, and as a good Minnesotan Lutheran (ha!), I've had to learn to show and talk about my work in ways that don't feel too pushy or sales-y. So I'm always working to improve my business from a marketing standpoint!
In addition, I am working on creating a new online course that will teach anyone how to paint with acrylics – no prior knowledge or painting experience needed! I think many people have a real desire to pursue something creative, and especially after we've all lived through a couple of pandemic years, it's helpful to have an enjoyable activity to turn to that's different from work or household responsibilities. I find so much joy in painting, and I hope to help other people spark that same joy and satisfaction!
Please share a message for SG Students, Staff, Community and fellow alums:
I think every person is born with a gift to share with the world, and once you figure out what yours is, don't let anyone stop you from sharing it! Today, we are uniquely equipped with access to TONS of information via the internet and social media, and this also means that it's easier than ever to share your gifts, and even start a business!