WSHS student uses art to benefit herself, others

Julia Kopperud

Focusing on extracurricular artistic activities has helped Julia Kopperud navigate many challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The junior at Winona Senior High School is a student who is passionate about art, and creates her artistic projects for both enjoyment and for emotional healing. 

“I am motivated to create art by many different things,” Kopperud said. “I think sometimes you can see that in my art. I mostly create art for an emotional release. A lot of the time, I use art to process my own thoughts and feelings.” 

Her interest in art began in elementary school. As she grew older and developed her artistic skills, she began to create art that reflected her own artistic voice. Her artistic style evolved into what Kopperud refers to as an “abstract semi-realistic style,” where she gravitates towards painting faces within abstract backgrounds for a dream-like surreal effect. “It just happens,” she said. “I never plan for the art to look the way it does. I feel like the works of art go together because the art is created in an emotional way.” 

Kopperud was recently recognized for collaborating with members of the WSHS GSA (Gender-Sexuality Alliance) to create a large-scale painting that pays homage to Marsha P. Johnson. Johnson was a transgender African American activist whose efforts played an important role in securing rights for those in the LGBTQ+ community. Kopperud’s collaborative painting is part of a larger project, involving student developed paintings focused on the celebration of diversity, which will be revealed in future months. Adding to this accomplishment, Kopperud was selected as the featured artist for WSHS’s Winhawk Artist Spotlight and asked to place her art on display at WSHS throughout the course of the year. 

Most recently, she completed a work of art to raise money for Bolder Options, a Twin Cities based non-profit charity organization with a branch in Rochester. When Julia’s high school art teacher, Sherry Dahlen, presented her with the opportunity to help raise funds for Bolder Options, Kopperud was more than willing to help. 


“Julia is not only artistically talented, she is also a very kind and compassionate person,” Dahlen said. “I knew that she was the right student to approach with this opportunity.”

Julia Kopperud butterfly painting

Bolder Options identifies middle school youth in need of support and provides them with wellness-based mentoring. They are matched with volunteer mentors who assist them with the pursuit of goals related to social/emotional health, academics, and physical health. 

“The mission of Bolder Options is to help youth succeed in all of life’s races,” said Scott Robinson, the Rochester Program Director for Bolder Options. “What that means is that we want to help youth develop the tools and skills to be successful in life.” Bolder options does this by providing many experiences and opportunities that youth may not otherwise have access to. 
Kopperud’s work of art, titled Metamorphosis, will be auctioned off along with other items during an upcoming Bolder Options fundraiser event, the 2021 SPORTACULAR Tailgate Challenge. She created Metamorphosis, not only to benefit the organization, but also to express gratitude to a person who has been there to support her, as a mentor in her life. 

“My grandfather passed away this year, and this was my first real experience with grief,” she said. “I had previously made a smaller version of this painting for him when he was going through a lot of changes in his life. I think of butterflies as symbols of change and growth, and the faces within the butterfly represent growth within oneself. I created this painting for the fundraiser to express gratitude for my grandfather, because in a way, he was a mentor to me.”

The Sportacular Tailgate Challenge takes place from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, June 19 at Mayo Field in Rochester. This event is family friendly, with ballpark food, drinks, a silent auction with many items including Kopperud’s painting, sports memorabilia, and a live auction with the Timberwolves PA announcer Rod Johnson. Many games will take place, and former professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB and WNBA have been invited to mingle and participate in events. Robinson explained that all proceeds from the event will support the Rochester Bolder Options program, while the goal of the fundraiser is to raise funds and bring awareness to the program. 

“We are always looking for mentors, so we are hopeful that anyone who attends the event will walk away thinking of who they could talk to about this impactful organization and encourage others to get involved,” he said.

Tickets are available on www.bolderoptions.org/events. Tickets are $30 for adults, $10 for 18 and under, and free for children 5 and under. Tickets include entry, food/pop and autographs.