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Inspirational mural by artist Hans Gilsdorf, recently installed at Detroit Lakes High School commons, was a collaborative effort

An extremely large, visually striking mural now graces the new commons at Detroit Lakes High School, courtesy of local artist Hans Gilsdorf. But the 8x48-foot mural, titled "The Laker Ripple Effect," actually serves a dual purpose: It was printed on the fabric used for acoustic panels installed by local firm DOW Acoustics, Inc., to help control the sound inside the commons. The oversized printer used for the project was provided by another local business, Trophy House, and the high-resolution digital image used for the process was the work of local photographer Jack Davis.

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Detroit Lakes artist Hans Gilsdorf took this selfie with the new mural he created for the commons area at Detroit Lakes High School after completing the installation on Monday, Nov. 29. The mural, titled "The Laker Ripple Effect," was inspired by a quote from renowned children's rights advocate Marion Wright Edelman. (Submitted photo)

Though "The Laker Ripple Effect," the new inspirational mural now gracing the commons at Detroit Lakes High School, is signed by local artist Hans Gilsdorf, the project was actually a collaborative effort by local businesses, school board members and artists.

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The original concept drawing from artist Hans Gilsdorf for his new public mural project, "The Laker Ripple Effect," which was installed in late November at the Detroit Lakes High School commons. (Submitted photo)

"Many people worked on it," Gilsdorf said in a recent interview.

While he painted the original artwork used for the mural, there is no paint to be found anywhere on the twelve, 8x4-foot panels comprising the public art piece.


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This giant 8x48-foot mural was installed in the Detroit Lakes High School commons in late November. The mural was conceived by artist Hans Gilsdorf, who painted a scale model of the project before it was printed using equipment provided by The Trophy House of Detroit Lakes. The mural serves a dual purpose: It was printed on acoustic panels supplied by DOW Acoustics, Inc., and is thus used to absorb sound in the large, open space of the commons. (Submitted photo)

"They are acoustic panels," Gilsdorf explained, adding that the application of paint to the fabric would have impaired the sound-absorbing function of the panels.

So instead, Gilsdorf painted a significantly scaled down version of the mural, which was then photographed in high definition by local photographer Jack Davis.

The digital image was then blown up to 8x48-foot size and printed onto the fabric of the acoustic panels, using an Avery direct-to-surface printer supplied by The Trophy House of Detroit Lakes.

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This large-scale printer was used by The Trophy House to print the mural image onto a series of 12, 4x8-foot panels supplied by DOW Acoustics, Inc. The mural was created by local artist Hans Gilsdorf and installed in the commons of Detroit Lakes High School. (Submitted photo)

"It was challenging," said Trophy House co-owner Eric Tulius, who worked closely with Gilsdorf and Jim Wood, president of DOW Acoustics, Inc. (also based in Detroit Lakes), on the panel installation. "We spent hours fine tuning the colors and the overall look of the panels."


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This photo of a recently printed panel in the new Detroit Lakes High school mural, "The Laker Ripple Effect," was supplied by Eric Tulius of The Trophy House, who worked closely with artist Hans Gilsdorf to duplicate the color and appearance of the artist's original painting, which was recreated on a series of acoustic panels. (Submitted photo)

There were "multiple" test prints done, Tulius said; Gilsdorf noted that they had to experiment with several different types of acoustic panels before they found the right one.

In addition, Gilsdorf said, he and Jim Wood spent several more hours making sure that the panels lined up seamlessly to form the finished mural. The installation was done over the Thanksgiving weekend, with the finishing touches being completed on Monday night, Nov. 29.

Though the mural appears finished, Gilsdorf and Tulius both noted that there was one final piece to be added: A commemorative plaque inscribed with the quote from children's advocate Marion Wright Edelman that served as the inspiration for Gilsdorf's work.

The quote, "Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it," was suggested by Gilsdorf's wife, Mary Beth, who helped him come up with the concept after he was approached with the project last spring by Detroit Lakes School Board Chairman Amy Erickson and Superintendent of Schools Mark Jenson.


Gilsdorf noted that the school board left the concept for the art piece largely up to him, though they did approve the final design before he began work on it.

He said that the center of the piece is literally a small red heart, with the words "It Starts Here" printed below, and an image of Detroit Lake above it.

Surrounding that centerpiece is an image of the state of Minnesota, and around that, the globe, with the stars, moons and planets forming the solar system beyond that.

It's meant to depict Gilsdorf's message for DLHS students: "What you do, what you’re learning here in Detroit Lakes can take you anywhere you want to go — and beyond your wildest dreams."

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