Adopt-a-River trash sculptures

A creature from the 2012 sculpture, For 21 years, the Adopt-a-River program drew attention to the trash found in and around public waters and recognized the efforts of volunteers through a Found Objects (aka "trash") sculpture displayed at the Minnesota State Fair.

In 2015 these sculptures were discontinued. Seven of these former sculptures, however, continue to be displayed in permanent locations around the Twin Cities metro region. To find these seven sculptures, click here. All the sculptures can be seen below.

2014 River Trash Sculpture: 'Lepus Ex Apparatus'

2014 sculpture created by Tristan Kyrsta.

Each year the Adopt-a-River program commissions an artist to create a sculpture representing the diverse materials found at a river cleanup, to be displayed next to the DNR duck pond at the Minnesota State Fair.

Local artist Tristan Kyrsta is a sculptor who recently graduated from Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minnesota. As a student, she gained recognition for her art through interesting manipulation of shapes, colors and textures.

"The whole process was a bit of a gamble, I had wait and see what was pulled out of the river. This determined the shape and scale at which I could work," says Tristan.

Lepus Ex Apparatus (Rabbit from the Machine) is Tristan's response to the materials she found.

This is the 21st annual Adopt-a-River Found-Objects Sculpture at the Minnesota State Fair, and was commissioned by the DNR as a tribute to more than 97,000 volunteers who have removed 6.4 million pounds of trash from Minnesota's public waters since 1989.

The creation of this sculpture has been generously funded by Boston Scientific Corporation, whose Green Team has conducted 18 cleanups, removing over 51,000 pounds of trash from our waters.

2013 River Trash Sculpture: 'Homegrown'

2013 sculpture "Homegrown" created by Andrew Vomhof.

Life after the Fair: This sculpture lives on in a permanent installation!

Find it at the Banfille Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley. Map it.

Each year the Adopt-a-River program commissions an artist to create a sculpture representing the diverse materials found at a river cleanup, to be displayed next to the DNR duck pond at the Minnesota State Fair.

Local artist Andrew Vomhof returned for a second year after developing the 2012 river trash sculpture "Scuttled." Vomhof is a Minnesota native and 2010 graduate of Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

He gathered materials for the project during a Mississippi River cleanup in June 2013 aboard a riverboat. The cleanup involved more than 100 volunteers slogging through the sand bar willows in a one-inch rain storm. They filled a trailer with over 1,200 pounds of material, including 800 pounds of tires retrieved from the backwaters and sand bars.

The great assortment of plastic bottles found illustrates how numerous certain items are in our public waters. Bottles arrive in the river every time it rains, from every storm drain flowing from our streets. The array of materials washed into the river is almost limitless, and that assortment of materials increases every time it rains, and during every spring flood.

This is the 20th annual Adopt-a-River Found-Objects Sculpture at the Minnesota State Fair, and serves as a tribute to more than 90,000 volunteers who have removed 6.2 million pounds of trash from Minnesota's public waters since 1989.

The 2013 sculpture was brought to the Fair with the assistance of Boston Scientific Corporation.

2012 River Trash Sculpture: 'Scuttled'

Life after the Fair: This sculpture lives on in a permanent installation!

Find it at the DNR office at 1200 Warner Road in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Map it.

Our 2012 artist is Andrew Vomhof, a Minnesota native and 2010 graduate of Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Vomhof created an 800-pound sculpture of a turtle and bird navigating a 15-foot tall sailboat on rough seas.

This Adopt-a-River sculpture is constructed out of rubbish collected from the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, including a scuttled fishing boat, dozens of tires, hundreds of plastic soda bottles, rebar, auto parts, propane tanks, children's toys, and scrap metal.

2012 Artist's Quote

"So many of the materials used in this sculpture are made of plastic or rubber...they will outlive the metal pieces, which will rust away. Interesting!" - Andrew Vomhof

The work represents some of the diversity of materials found at a river cleanup. The holes in the seats of the boat, for example, illustrate how an indifferent boater scuttled (or sank) this boat in the Mississippi River, only to have it re-surface in flood waters that pulled it off the bottom of the river and dumped it in the flood plain forest, where it was found during last June's river cleanup.

The great assortment of plastic bottles illustrates how numerous certain items are in our public waters. Bottles arrive in the river every time it rains, from every storm drain flowing from our streets. The array of materials washed into the river is almost limitless.

This is the 19th annual Adopt-a-River Found-Objects Sculpture at the Minnesota State Fair, and serves as a tribute to nearly 90,000 volunteers who have removed 6 million pounds of trash from Minnesota's public waters since 1989. This year's sculpture is being brought to the Fair by Boston Scientific Corporation, with assistance from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

2011 River Trash Sculpture: 'Union: a Deer and Two Herons'

Life after the Fair: This sculpture lives on in a permanent installation!

Find it at the Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center in Prescott, Wisconsin. Map it.

This year, artist Raina Belleau created a 500-pound, 15-foot tall eight-point buck with a pair of large herons nesting in its antlers. Belleau included herons in the work because she was saddened when the tornado that struck Minneapolis this spring also destroyed a heron rookery.

This sculpture is constructed out of rubbish collected from the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers including rusted car parts, headlights, pliers, a license plate, a jumper cable clip, a toy tractor, a rubber cement bottle, rebar, shoes, and assorted gears and scrap metal. The herons were constructed using tire tubes and more than five garbage bags full of plastic water and pop bottles.

The sculpture is also a tribute to more than 80,000 volunteers who have removed 6 million pounds of trash from public waters at 3,000 cleanups over the years.

2010 River Trash Sculpture: 'Nature's Engineer: The Beaver'

 

Life after the Fair: This sculpture lives on in a permanent installation!

Find it at the visitor center at Fort Snelling State Park. Map it. **Fort Snelling State Park art work has been temporarily stored**

Sculptors Chip Addington (class of 2011) and Caylon Hackwith (class of 2010) from Bethel University in Arden Hills, MN, constructed this found-objects sculpture as a tribute to 80,000 volunteers who have removed 6 million pounds of rubbish from Minnesota's public waters since 1989.

Virtually every element of this sculpture, with the except of a few scraps of wire and some welding rods, came from river cleanup sites on the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Each time the artists visited these sites they were confronted with evidence of beaver engineering, so they decided to commemorate these industrious creatures. The beaver drove early exploration of the North American continent, became a virtual unit of monetary exchange, and later became the symbol of all things wild and natural. The artists thus presented the beaver to inspire greater care for our public waters.

A tire, taken from a flood-plain cleanup in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, was cut and used as the beaver's tail. Pieces of glass bottles and softballs were used for the beaver's eyes. The teeth were cut from a ceramic vase found at a cleanup. This realistic sculpture was a favorite for both children and adults when on exhibit at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair.

2009 Trash Sculpture: 'Urgie the Sturgeon'

Urgie the Sturgeon

Artist Demian Jackman, an elementary school art teacher, constructed the largest Adopt-a-River sculpture in the history of the program. The sculpture, which extended to the treetops, attracted large crowds throughout the fair.

His artistic talent combined with his ability to bring people together has enabled his sculpture to become a community-built piece. Volunteers assisted in collecting river trash and doing prep work on the sculpture.

Demian describes his work as "a symbol of habitat restoration and species conservation in Minnesota waters. For me, the creature that is most symbolic of the waters of Minnesota is the sturgeon. Once a source of food for Native Americans, by 1900, it was depleted to near extinction by commercial fisheries."

Large components of the sculpture came from the 2009 Mississippi Riverboat Cleanup, a flood-plain cleanup in Belle Plaine and debris left from a 1961 bridge demolition on the Minnesota River.

2008 Trash Sculpture: 'The Industrious, Cooperative Ant'

Life after the Fair: This sculpture lives on in a permanent installation!

Find it on the bike trail along the river in South Saint Paul, north of the Wakota Bridge. Map it.

The Industrious, Cooperative Ant

Artist Rabi Sanfo describes this year's sculpture as follows: "During the Great Mississippi Riverboat Cleanup (June 12, 2008) many people cleaned the river as a community. Along the Mississippi riverbank in Lilydale, near downtown Saint Paul, my group removed a rusting, half-buried wheelbarrow. It reminded me of an ant's head. Underneath the piece there were ants. At this point, I knew I would be creating an ant for my sculpture. I chose every piece after I found the wheelbarrow to help build the ant, including a gas cylinder and a steel pot. Ants live in community and build everything in this community in an organized way. If people did the same, the environment would be better."

2007 Trash Sculpture: 'Morph the Transforming Frog'

In regards to the sculpture the artist, Mary P. Johnson said, "In the same way that frogs metamorphose from tadpoles, this work springs from the discarded items pulled from our beautiful public waters."

Life after the Fair: This sculpture was moved to Tamarack Nature Center, Lino Lakes, Minnesota. It continued an active life of educatiing school children about water stewardship. The frog skin was replaced annually for several years. When the artwark was retired summer of 2014, the director of the center said, "Having this sculpture here was a tremendous educational tool."

2006 Trash Sculpture: 'Dragon Fly'

Dragon Fly 2006

Life after the Fair: This sculpture lives on in a permanent installation!

Find it at Lock & Dam #2 in Hastings. Map it.

The artist hoped to convey the river's energy and beauty, both of which are too often marred by our carelessness, using this familiar "messenger," often seen flying above the waters of the river

Artist: Paul Beyer

River Turtle 2005

The turtle serves as a face and voice for the local river environment, bringing awareness of how precious nature is and how delicate its balance is.

Artist: Paul Byer

 

 

Koi Carp 2004

Orange trash was a common sight in the river cleanups of 2004. It inspired this sculpture, representing the exotic koi carp. Trash that can mar public waters (just as this exotic fish can) has been transformed to inspire cleanup of these waters.

Artist: Stephen Bateman

 

 

 

Watch Swan 2003

Inspired by the tundra swans of the Mississippi River flyway, this large bird calls us to stop allowing our public waters to be "trashed."

Artist: Steve Bateman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2002 Trash Sculpture: 'Red Alert'

Life after the Fair: This sculpture lives on in a permanent installation!

Find it near the intersection of University Avenue and Fairview Avenue in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Map it.

For more information about the sculpture and artist, watch show #247 on MNOriginal. This link leads to an external site.

Red Alert

A red-eyed, loon-like creature issuing a "red alert" to keep trouble out of our public waters

Artist: Al Wadzinsky

Flood Dwelling 2001

A tree-house, a hiding place, or some sort of place of solitude along the river, existing despite the problems encountered from flooding. This is a representation of our relationship to the river.

Artists: Timothy Hasenstein and Allison Hoogervorst

 

 

 

The Ancient Mariner 2000

The scarecrow from 1999 was adapted into a mariner, complete with fishing nets; but nets filled with stormwater rubbish gathered from the river.

Artist: Lou Ferreri

 

 

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2600 Scarecrows 1999

A frightful scarecrow covered with river rubbish

(It symbolized 1/2600th of all the rubbish removed from the rivers during a ten-year period.)

Artist: Lou Ferreri

 

 

 

 

The Diviners 1998

Two figures using divining rods to draw up rubbish from the river

Artist: Lou Ferreri

 

 

 

 

 

The Toxic Avenger 1997

A huge beaver-like creature, changed by its polluted habitat

Artist: Al Wadzinski

 

 

Fish 1996

A smallmouth bass woven out of river rubbish

Artist: John Ballinger

 

 

 

Arching Roots of the River Bank 1995

Rubbish tangled in the roots protruding from an eroding river bank

Artist: Jason P. Moore

 

 

See what the fish have to put up with? 1994

A school of fish swimming through a river full of rubbish

Artist: Saul Simon