It's been a stressful couple of months for the art and graphic design students at Detroit Lakes High School, who were charged with creating no less than six sailboats for the "150 Sails Up in DL" public art project.
Though the sailboat sculptures have been available since late December, distance learning requirements imposed by statewide pandemic safety restrictions meant that opportunities for physically working on the sailboats were quite limited until early February.
That's when Detroit Lakes Public Schools transitioned from a fluctuating combination of distance and face-to-face learning to full-time, in-person classes for the first time in nearly a year.
- Related: Learn more about the 150 Sails Up in DL public art project and other Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial festivities at dl-online.com.
"We were contacted first by Kent Mollberg and his family, who wanted to sponsor a sailboat out at the football field (which is named Mollberg Field)," said DLHS art teacher Claire Danner.
The Mollbergs paid for a large, 4-foot-tall sailboat to be installed at Mollberg Field this spring.
"The entire Mollberg family pitched in to purchase this sailboat to honor our parents, Del and Muriel Mollberg, both teachers in Detroit Lakes for many years," said Kent Mollberg. "Nearly all of us graduated from Detroit Lakes High School, and we feel we received fantastic educations.
"We are very pleased that Detroit Lakes High School students were able to work on the sailboat, and are looking forward to it being displayed at Mollberg Field for years to come," he added.
Mollberg also noted that the football field is currently home to one of the original "Sunny in DL" sunfish, created for another public art project back in 2003. That fish was painted by Anne Rehn, the daughter of two former DLHS teachers, Vicky and Ed Welke, and has been on display at Mollberg Field since 2007.
Danner said that the customized design for the Mollberg sailboat was meant to convey the idea that all past and present Detroit Lakes students and staff were part of "one Laker family."
She added that they were tasked with encompassing all the different aspects of Laker culture — academics, athletics, arts and activities.
"We started coming up with ideas during distance learning," said Danner, adding that they weren't able to start working on the sailboats physically until February.
"Then we just started sketching," she added, noting that the students would sketch their designs onto the sailboat in pencil before they started painting.
"We didn't really start painting until the last month or so," added Piper Thorson, who along with fellow students Alecia Akers and Annika Gulseth, was tasked with creating the Mollbergs' design.
"There have been many, many, coats of paint, and lots of mistakes," Danner said.
"And lots of mental breakdowns, at least on my part," Akers added jokingly.
"It was just us psyching ourselves out a little bit," Thorson said with a smile.
"It's taken a long time to figure out how to get all the symbols and logos to flow together in a cohesive design," Danner explained, noting that they would probably be working on the finishing touches right up until the day before the Sailboat Regatta Party on Friday, April 30 — but it would be finished on time for the public unveiling of all 150 sailboat sculptures that were created for "150 Sails up in DL."
Danner added that her art classes were also charged with creating two of the smaller, 20-inch sailboats, which are designated for the campuses of Roosevelt Elementary and Detroit Lakes Middle School.
She noted that the students needed to set aside other projects they were working on to finish all of the sailboats on time, and sometimes came in during their study halls and free periods to work on them, as well as after school.
"I had three different classes sketch out ideas for the sailboats, using imagery that was a positive reflection of their educational experiences in Detroit Lakes," Danner said, explaining the designs for the smaller sailboats. "Each student used their own creative energy to come up with images such as working bees, daydreaming clouds, colorful patterns, school supplies and subjects. Each design was original and unique to the person; we combined designs so each student had their own panel, and adjusted so that each panel would flow together with similar color schemes and patterns."
Budding graphic artists create three sailboats
Three more of the smaller "150 Sails Up" sailboats were entrusted to the students of graphic design instructor Amy Knopf.
Knopf said her students created their sailboat designs using the Photoshop computer program. Their sailboats will be placed in front of Rossman Elementary School, the Lincoln Education Center (which houses the district's community education, early childhood and preschool programs), and the district administration building.
The Lincoln Education Center design, incorporating some of the artwork of the center's preschool students, was designed by Alecia Akers and Genna Myers. Akers designed the front of the sailboat, Myers the back.
The district administration building sailboat was designed by Casey Canton and Evan Thomas, incorporating photographs from each of the district's four academic buildings as well as the Laker logo.
Canton designed the front of the sailboat, which included the photographs, while Thomas did the graphics work on the back of the sculpture, which focused on the sailboat-themed Laker logo.
The sailboat designed for Rossman Elementary was designed by Carson Rogstad, Tyler Moran, MaKenna Mallow, Katie McConkey and Nick Larson.
According to Knopf, the gradient and chalkboard font on the sailboat's front were designed by Rogstad, the handprint inside the heart was designed by Moran, and Mallow contributed the front-side design of the "six pillars of Rossman," floating upward with balloons attached, as well as the quote and "blending of the Kind photos" on the back of the sailboat.
McConkey designed the stripes incorporated on the back-side design, which helped "bring in the bright colors that were used on the front," while Larson took a photo of a Rossman teacher and student and "blended it with the starry night sky on the back of the sailboat."
Another 20-inch sailboat, designated for Detroit Lakes High School, is being sponsored by the school's Class of 1972. That sailboat will incorporate the original Laker logo, which was designed by DLHS alum Eloise Jenson Irvine (Class of 1940), rather than the current design. Irvine is the mother of 1972 alum Sally Irvine, and is currently a resident at Ecumen Detroit Lakes.
A sailboat coloring contest
One more sailboat in the "150 Sails Up" project can be credited to Detroit Lakes students: Back in March, the City of Detroit Lakes sponsored a sailboat coloring contest for local third, fourth and fifth graders. All of the contest entries were displayed at the Washington Square Mall, with the winning entries for each grade being announced on the city's Facebook page:
- Grade 3: Lily Nikkila
- Grade 4: Natalie Cook
- Grade 5: Ava Marchus
Marchus, as the grand prize winner, had her drawing digitally placed on a vinyl wrap for one of the sailboats designated for silent auction. Proceeds from that auction will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes. The winner was announced at Friday night's Regatta Party.
All 150 sailboats in the "150 Sails Up" project are in the process of being transferred from their temporary home at Kent Freeman Arena to their new locations, which will be spread throughout the city of Detroit Lakes. For more information, as well as an interactive map of where the sailboats will be located, visit www.dl150.com/sailboat, or check out facebook.com/150SailsUp for updates.