NEW GLARUS — Music hums in the background, as an idea for a drawing pops into a local middle school student’s head.
Ava Aasve, 13, brings the thought to life in her sketchbook and calls her mom into her room to check it out.
The piece shows women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds standing side-by-side next to one another.
Her message: “Everybody’s beautiful in their own way … and everybody has a different type that they like,” so there is no one woman who can be the singularly most beautiful in the world, Ava said.
Little did either mother or daughter know at the time she sketched it that the drawing would end up making headlines — not to mention, online sales.
Ava said she thought it would just “stay in (her) sketchbook,” but it soon became much more visible than a page in a closed volume.
When her mom, Jessica Aasve, saw it, she was so proud that she decided to share it on Facebook.
Everybody’s beautiful in their own way … and everybody has a different type that they like.Ava Aasve, 13, New Glarus
In the Aasve family, which also includes Ava’s little brother, Andrew, 9, they steer away from words with negative connotations when describing people and instead choose language like “strong” and “healthy,” Jessica said, so she was thrilled to see Ava highlighting that line of thought in her creation.
“Ava’s always been accepting of others and their differences, even on her own,” Jessica added, and she always sees the beauty in the uniqueness of all different types of people.
Ava, who is an eighth-grade student at New Glarus School District, skateboards and does art in her free time, as she forges ahead toward her goal of someday working in the realm of crime scene investigation.
“I think (the idea for the drawing) just kind of came to me, with all the stuff going on (in the world and online), I thought it would just be fun to draw that,” Ava said, noting the ongoing issue of cyberbullying. While she said she hasn’t had an up-close-and-personal experience with it, she wanted to send a message of body positivity.
Jessica wasn’t the only one excited to see this message in Ava’s artwork. Her initial post ended up with 175 reactions and more than 50 comments.
Then a woman who has a shop on Etsy reached out.
She wanted to feature Ava’s art on shirts to sell online, Jessica said. They coordinated to make it happen, and it was a hit. Ava’s piece also found its way onto decal stickers and facemasks.
“People loved the message, the body positivity message, and loved the image, and there were a lot of purchases,” Jessica said.
A local news channel even featured her art during a broadcast for International Women’s Day.
While Ava may not have formal training in art — she said she’s taken just a class, and it was during virtual learning — she says art is something she’s been passionate about for “probably (her) whole life.”
Ava’s always been accepting of others and their differences, even on her own.Jessica Aasve, Ava's mother
“Ava’s been painting since before she could talk,” Jessica said, and artwork is something they like to do as a family. She and Ava have even picked up making lip balm together when Jessica isn’t at her full-time job at the Dane County Department of Human Services doing juvenile justice work.
“We’re always kind of creating and playing around and making stuff,” Jessica said.
Jessica makes barn boards and flip furniture and sells some of her pieces on Facebook.
This was the first time Ava got to sell her work, though, she said, and she is now getting to keep a portion of the profits.
The young entrepreneur, whose favorite subject in school is math, is already at work creating some rings that she is also considering selling.
Even more of a reward, though, is the positive feedback she’s gotten on her creation.
“She’s so humble about it,” Jessica said, but people have reached out to them and said the piece inspires them, and some other moms have inquired about buying prints of it to hang in their daughters’ rooms as a message of support reminding them to love themselves for who they are as they struggle with self-image, she said.
Ava said she couldn’t believe how much her art was resonating with people. She thought it would probably be just family members who would buy the T-shirts, so she was excited and surprised to see it reaching others, too.
The school district helped increase the reach by sharing her accomplishments on its Facebook page.
“We’re just extremely proud” that she’s using her voice to speak for equity, said Mark Stateler, middle school principal.
Shirts, facemasks and stickers with Ava’s art are still available for purchase on the Etsy shop TheTurtlesMouse.