Student summer influenced by power of a pen and paper


One of Minjae Lee’s many drawings.

Minjae Lee ‘17 may just have had the epitome of creative summers. If her summer were to be represented in a series of snapshots, the series would consist of blooming New York City skylines, awe-inspiring encounters with esteemed metropolitan journalists, and infinite drawings churned out during the summer months, tied together by the punchy color palette of a comic-style editorial cartoon.

Lee, a current junior and a graphic contributor and manager for SpectrumIMG_2352, comes from a family dotted with creatives. Her father, for example, works in retail in South Korea. He visits over summer and winter breaks. Since moving from Seoul her freshman year, where she had an art-based school experience, she has lived in Edina with her mother and sisters.

She observes that Seoul is “kind of like New York; it’s very crowded, very loud all the time with subways everywhere, so it’s just nice to be in the suburbs. I get that self-motivation because it’s so quiet. I get to hang out more with my family.” With an artistic family and the vibrant experiences of having resided in two completely different environments, it is no wonder her art, such as that shown below, is infused with such strong personal style.

At the beginning of the summer, Lee visited a loud and crowded environment much like Seoul. She visited New York City, stopping at Columbia University and New York University during the early days following the schools’ graduations. She noted that “it was really interesting because [the schools] were both in the city, but they were in a different kind of like neighborhood and the buildings were different.” She was surprised that while Columbia felt more like a typical college town, NYU managed an entirely different, more industrial feel.

Following these visits, Lee explored the city further. While the Guggenheim was closed during her visit, she got to explore SoHo shopping and the infamous Metropolitan Museum of Art, dipping her toe in one of the most recognized cultural and artistic hotspots in the country and world.

When she returned to Minneapolis, Lee continued her creative exploration by taking two classes at the Loft Literary Center. Her class ‘Your Voice Matters’ taught her how to incorporate her opinion into her writing–and drawing, for that matter. She got to meet Star Tribune editorial cartoonist Steve Sachs, who talked about how he asserts his personal voice through drawing. “Since I’ve been doing a lot of graphics for Spectrum, it’s just interesting,” says Lee. “He does a lot of more digital working whereas I do a lot more drawing with my pen and paper.” As if one Star Tribune staff member wasn’t enough, columnist Gail Rosenblum taught the class. She talked about how it’s really important to reveal teens voices in the paper.”

IMG_2355Aside from bringing her writing talents to Spectrum, Lee has strengthened her ability to write under the pressures students face during in-class academic writing. Her class ‘Writing Through Fear’ was highly helpful. She says, “Sometimes I get really intimidated by some of the in-class writing, and that can be really stressful.” She said exercises in the seven-person class included learning ways to relax, throw out word vomit on a page, and engage in discussion of fear as it appears in the students own lives. “It was interesting because although people had different perspectives, we ended up having the same kind of fear. [The common fear was] peer pressure.” With her experiences in these classes and in New York, Lee returns to Spectrum ready for anything artistic and literary that could be thrust upon her, fully charged with her summer’s creatively stimulating experiences.