Art project creates boats out of river material

A group of local artists have made artistic boats out of plant material harvested from the Apple River and will float them downstream this summer.




2 minute read

"Three Small Boats," by Barb Erickson
"Three Small Boats," by Barb Erickson

If you like to eat locally-grown food and buy locally-made products, what about making art produced with local materials? A unique project by a small group of St. Croix area artists seeks to promote sustainability by showing what can be made with plant material found along the Apple River, and then creating art that makes a statement about people’s connection to the river.

The project’s website says the effort began last fall with a trip down the Apple River to collect material:

In the fall, a small group of artists embarked on a journey with the purpose of exploring sustainable practices, learning, pondering our relationship to the river, and involving the community.  They began by paddling down the Apple River, a tributary of the St. Croix, and gathering plant material to turn into handmade paper.  They continued to meet regularly throughout the winter and spring to develop the project and created fifty small paper boats using only the plant material they had collected.

A story in the New Richmond News says that not only will the boats themselves serve as a symbol of sustainability, but they will also carry messages:

When the boats are launched there will be messages written on paper that dissolves in water “and the graphite continues to float so the words may float on for a while after the boat sinks,” Bend said.

She said the messages will come from individuals’ connection to the river through their life experiences and their hopes for the future of (the river’s) health.

The public can view larger boats, which will not be sent down the river, at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson until June 12. More information »

The kayak trip and the winter of art production was was photographed and presented in a video:


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Art project creates boats out of river material