AIS Art Sails Project

HIghlighting aquatic invasive species issues and environmental change through sails, art, and diverse voices.

Raising sails, issues, and voices

This art installation intends to create long lasting & widespread awareness regarding aquatic invasive species on Lake Minnetonka and in the surrounding community. Five unique sets of sails that highlight AIS issues have been created by local and diverse artists and were unveiled at the Wayzata Art Experience. Our intention is to highlight native, local, or underrepresented voices as part of the project, adding gravity to an issue that has had a major effect on Lake Minnetonka and the many that value it. We hope to connect conversations around AIS with generations of lake users, creating a broader connection to our lake for all participants and viewers.

  • Generate graphically stunning local media interest around AIS
  • Tap underrepresented voices to complete a picture of lake usage, history, and connection
  • Attractive long term advertising for AIS issues through regular display and use by Wayzata Sailing
  • Connect the sailing community with its increased impact and potential for AIS transportation/spread
  • Connect local residents with both AIS issues and historical context of Lake Minnetonka
View the WCCO Channel 4 Feature

Meet the Artists 

Aimi Dickel

Aimi is a Graphic Artist and Illustrator for the Riley Purgatory Creek Watershed District where she previously has done work on invasive species and other aquatic life. As an artist, she enjoys exploring themes regarding to living as an Asian Pacific American women and other social justice topics. "Art has been my way of self expression, exploration, education, and protest for almost as long as I have been able to draw. It is the way I show my identity and personality, but it also how I speak to other people when words do not do enough."

The sails Aimi painted were inspired by the invasion of Asian Carp. She realized how much damage these fish cause while out in the field helping sample the aquatic species in a local body of water. "I could never forget seeing whole troughs being hauled in by my coworkers every week. They seem passive at a glance but the way they invade and take over water bodies is extremely insidious."

Josh DeSmit

Josh DeSmit is a mixed media artist who lives and works in Minneapolis with his wife, Kelley, and two children. Aside from being an artist he is primary care giver to his kids, a fishing guide on the rivers of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and a high school hockey coach. His experiences as a busy father raising a family in an urban area, and his livelihood made in the outdoors fuel his artistic vision.

An aquatic invasive specie of interest to Josh is the common carp, in which the sail he created is inspired by. As a non-native fish they are detrimental to local aquatic ecosystems because they outcompete other bottom feeding fish for food and space as they can grow large in size. As a hunter and fisherman, Josh have witnessed good water marginalized by these fish.

Marlena Myles

Marlena Myles is a self-taught Native American (Spirit Lake Dakota) artist located in St Paul, Minnesota. She has gained recognition as being one of the few Dakota women creating digital art including fabric patterns, animations and illustrations to bring modernity to indigenous history, languages and oral traditions. Growing up on her traditional Dakota homelands here in the Twin Cities, she enjoys using her artwork to teach Minnesotans of all backgrounds the indigenous history of this place we call home.

Many of her works have featured plants indigenous to Minnesota as a means to educate the public on traditional uses by Dakota people. "As a Dakota person, I am very aware that water is life and we must all take care of it, and that includes caring for the plants and animals that suffer because of invasive species we introduce into their homes in the lakes, streams, rivers and ponds."

Geno Okok

Geno Okok is a Minneapolis African American artist and a member of Freshwater stewards, an organization that connects artists to create projects that raise awareness surrounding water preservation. Previously, Geno has worked with the city of Brooklyn Park and UMN to paint murals that show the importance of keeping storm drains clean and encouraging environmentally friendly habits within the community.

The sail designed by Geno encapsulates imagery of  native aquatic species like clams and LargeMouth Bass in a healthy habitat. To contrast that, Geno included the invasion of AIS like zebra mussels which is known to filter out algae that native species need for food. "I intend to create a painting that would be relatable to this community and will not only address issues created by AIS, but will also highlight the beauty of the natural surroundings at Lake Minnetonka."

Kati Duesler

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Kati's lifelong passion for nature and the outdoors is reflected in her art. Observational drawing from plants and flowers has strengthened her attention to detail while simultaneously expanding her amazement of the complexities that different organisms contain.

Kati's sail was inspired by Flowering Rush, an invasive species that is located on the shorelines of Lake Minnetonka. "Upon gaining a further understanding of this species and its invasive nature, it is important to spread the information of its negative effects to those who may encounter it."