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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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."
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."