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SHS grad on Road Trip Nation

Most young people don't know what they want to do with their lives. But Calvin Stalvig, a 22-year-old senior Northland College art major, is going to try and find out the secret of the few who actually make careers out of what they love to do. St...

Calvin Stalvig
Calvin Stalvig, SHS grad and senior at Northland College will travel for Road Trip Nation this summer. (Photo by Shannon Holmes)

Most young people don't know what they want to do with their lives.

But Calvin Stalvig, a 22-year-old senior Northland College art major, is going to try and find out the secret of the few who actually make careers out of what they love to do.

Stalvig, a Superior native, and 2005 graduate of Superior High School, is one of three interviewers selected to travel around the United States for six weeks this summer for the Public Broadcasting Service series Road Trip Nation. He and two young women, one from Florida and one from California, and two videographers will travel across the country in a Road Trip Nation green RV to find and interview people who love their jobs.

"We all have passions and interests and are not sure what we are going to be doing with it," Stalvig said. "So we are out to find people who chose a different road and who are inspiring and we will let their stories inspire us."

Every summer, Road Trip Nation sends students out in RVs to learn the stories of fascinating people across the country. Their experiences are shared via Roadtrip Nation's PBS series, books, its online community, and student movement.

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But before Stalvig meets up with his team in California in June, Stalvig is focused on finishing his senior year at Northland.

He produced his senior art show at the Black Cat, a coffee house in Ashland.

"Primarily, I focus on multimedia," he said. "I really like mixing things. A project I was working on was mixing sewing with drawing, painting and printmaking. Right now I'm working on books, which focus on a lot of printing. I'm just really drawn to that mixing of materials to try and say something."

For the past three years, Stalvig has been president of Northland College's Art League, a student-run program devoted to bringing art to the Northland community. Although Northland College students run Art League, it provides opportunities for all community members, such as Empty Bowl and free, community art classes.

Stalvig learned the importance of free opportunities when he participated on an art project with indigenous youth in Guatemala.

"Their focus and priority is using art as a means for social development and enrichment," he said. "This really got me interested in art as community development, especially for children -- giving children and youth a place to be. I mean, it doesn't necessarily have to be art, but opportunities for children, especially free opportunities, are really important."

Using the skills he gained from living in Guatemala for those two-and-a-half months, Stalvig volunteered at Ashland Elementary School teaching Spanish.

Although his long-term plans aren't defined, he has a clear idea where he would like to end up.

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"My future goal is to travel and work artistically in another community and just really accumulate a lot of experience, mostly experience for when I go back home -- I really want to go back to Duluth and Superior," he said. "I'm really committed to that place. I want to use the things that I've learned in other places to make my community better through art."

Traveling from coast to coast for six weeks with Road Trip Nation will offer Stalvig a chance to gain insight into some of the experience he seeks.

"I'm seeing it as an opportunity to really get to know myself and to work with two other people who are in the same position -- not knowing what they want to do. I love art, and I want to do that, but I don't know all the things one can do with art."

The goal of the series is not only to foster inspiration in the three interviewers participating in the program, but also to provide living models for viewers.

For more information on Road Trip Nation, go to www.roadtripnation.com .

"It's just really to inspire people to do what they love and let them know that they can do what they love."

Stalvig is the son of Tamara Stalvig of Superior and the grandson of Rita McDonald of Superior and Finley Stalvig of Duluth.

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