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Breaking Barriers logo


Through Our lens


Through Our Lens Home
Leslie Elsasser - Introduction
Selina Roman - Looking Inward, Seeing Clearer
Christian Cortes

Beginning (Section A)
Jarrett Gafford - US Air Force
Dawn S. Hargrett - US Navy
Rebekka Huneke - Daughter of US Air Force Veteran Father
Ramonita Rosa - US Army
Kimberlee Nicole Smith - US Army
Monika Sutton - Wife of US Army Veteran
Karl Young II - US Army Colonel (US Special Operations Command)

Advanced (Section B)
James Alexander - US Air Force
Manfredo Bobadilla - US Army
Wildalys Class - US Air Force
Agustin Collazo Jr. - US Marine Corps / US Navy
Amanda Dodd - US Army
Evan Fountain - US Air Force
Mikko Maki - US Marine Corps
Alicia Morales - US Army
RaeAnne Swanson - US Air Force


Monika Sutton, Swimming with the Sun, 2022.

Monika Sutton, Swimming with the Sun, 2022.

MONIKA SUTTON - Wife of US Army Veteran

Swimming with the Sun

One day, after a big storm, I decided to walk by the lake and enjoy the sunset. I had a feeling it would be beautiful, and I was not disappointed.

I was slowly walking on the beach and watching the sun going down. I was looking for just the right spot to enjoy the event and to reflect. I passed an old tire laying in the sand, but didn’t quite notice it in that moment since my head was racing with thoughts.

Strolling on the beach is a great way to relax. The beautiful view, warm breeze, and the sound of waves gently patting the sand really took me away. The beach is an ideal place for personal reflection. It’s not hard to feel peace and joy there. A few tears even rolled down my cheek while thinking of my dear grandpa who recently passed away, remembering my family in Poland, and my husband who was currently on a trip in Germany.

At that moment, the pastel sky with wispy clouds had set the stage of serenity. The lovely tune of nature’s orchestra with its calming sounds, smells, and colors amidst the horizon was delightful.

Soon after the sun had set, I decided to make my way back. That was when my creative thoughts began to ignite and that old tire I passed earlier suddenly became more interesting. I stood it up and captured some photographs. I thought that the tire’s darkness and shape nicely framed the beauty of the nature in front of me. Like me, a family was also out enjoying the nice weather and warm water as they played in the lake. It looked like they were having a nice time so, I repositioned the tire to include them, and took more images. That pleasant moment brought a smile to my face and therefore, I wanted to capture the image forever.

Do not let others drag you down with what they do or say. Let the past strengthen you and do what makes you happy while enjoying what life has to offer.



Monika Sutton, Circulatory System of the Huey, 2022.

Monika Sutton, Circulatory System of the Huey, 2022.

Monika Sutton, Nature Channel, 2022.

Monika Sutton, Nature Channel, 2022.



For more information:
Email Leslie Elsasser at

Breaking Barriers is a project by USFCAM in collaboration with the USF School of Art and Art History, with Support from the USF Office of Veterans Success, Community Arts Impact Grant Program of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Love IV Lawrence 2020 Waves of Change Grant, and additional support from the ACE Arts for Community Engagement Fund and the Florida Department of State.