2021 Evy Nordley Spotlight #2: Detroit Lakes

We hope you will join us at 'Saturday Splash' on October 9 to hear presentations from each of this year's Evy Nordley finalist projects (plus the live winner announcement). In the run-up to that event, MALF is pleased to shine the spotlight on each of these exemplary projects – one at a time. Next up:

Becker County Friends of the Library | "Unlimited Possibilities"

As you can glean from the name, denizens of Detroit Lakes consider lake life to be a core part of their identity. This goes double in summertime, when seasonal residents and tourists balloon the City’s population by as much as 40 percent. For this reason, the area’s lake amenities took center stage in Detroit Lakes’ recent Sesquicentennial commemoration.

As a cornerstone of this anniversary celebration, a coalition of community stakeholders came together to launch “150 Sails Up in DL.” In this ambitious public art project, organizations of all kinds sponsored and collaborated with area artists on the creation of 150 sailboat sculptures.

Each boat is made of steel and concrete and measures either 4 feet or approx. 2 feet in height. However, each is truly one of a kind. Themes and styles run the gamut, with subjects as disparate as loons, sunsets, agates, pizza and popsicles coming together to tell a cohesive story about life in Detroit Lakes.

Becker County Friends of the Library partnered on not one but two of the most popular sailboat sculptures. These include “Unlimited Curiosity,” a stained-glass mosaic created by Detroit Lakes artist Becky Mitchell. It now graces the exterior of the historic Carnegie Library and invites passersby into this place of learning and discovery.

For the library’s interior, Friends and staff partnered with artist Eric A. Johnson on a 20’’ sculpture christened “Gohn Be Funky From Now On.” A medley of colors and shapes, this smaller sailboat is a sort of Rorschach test that encourages kids to use their imagination. Both installations debuted in early April at a Sailboat Regatta Party, the tentpole event of the Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial. They then moved to the Detroit Lakes Public Library, where both will be on display through December 2021.

The Friends of the Library smashed their initial fundraising goal for this endeavor in just ten days. This enabled them to rent a third sailboat sculpture. “We The People,” by Erinn Prischmann Webb, features Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and now graces the library’s YA section.

“We hope to see an increase in traffic inside the library,” explained co-organizer Terry Kalil. “The greater goal, though, is to inspire creativity in all who view our sailboats… and demonstrate Detroit Lakes Public Library’s role as a leading education and culture center in our community.”