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Art in motion: Library dedicates kinetic wind sculptures

The wind lifts artist Lynn Charls hair as she watches her kinetic wind sculpture "Dual Spinning Ficus leaves" after a dedication ceremony Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Brainerd Public Library. Charl's sculptures were selected by popular vote to be part of the library's outdoor landscaping. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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When the wind blows, Lynn Charls’ sculptures seem to come to life.

The four kinetic sculptures outside the Brainerd Public Library move at the slightest hint of breeze, catching the sunlight and dancing in smooth, rhythmic motions. The art and artist were honored Saturday, Aug. 24, with a dedication ceremony at the library.

The sculptures began as flat pieces of copper before Charls transformed them into three-dimensional pieces of public art by hand. Because they are made from copper, the sculptures will take on a natural patina over time.

“What is it about the wind sculptures?” Charls said to the crowd gathered outside the library Saturday. “I think it’s just the idea that they move with just wind. They’re so smooth, they are harmonious with nature -- (that) is probably why they’re so fascinating to me.”


A resident of Dodge Center, Charls has been a metal artist for 16 years. She has taught classes in wire weaving, wire wrapping, Viking knit and filigree at the Mantorville Art Gallery. In 2013, she learned how to raise and sink copper. Charls also creates fountains and wire jewelry. She exhibits at juried fine art fairs throughout Minnesota and Iowa.

Charls’ sculptures were selected by popular vote to be part of the library’s outdoor landscaping. Saturday, she thanked Brainerd for believing in her artwork.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe as a retired person -- who’s doing this for fun and because of the challenge of it -- that I would ever be able to do something like this. The fun part of it is, it challenges me.”

Three of the four sculptures are located in the garden outside the library: “Windmill,” the farthest north, followed by “Triple Level Solar Light” and “Dual Spinning Ficus Leaves.” The fourth sculpture in the parking island is titled “Double Helix.”

“After a lot of trial and error and working with different designs, they start to come together,” Charls said. “Nothing in nature is perfect, and if you want something perfect, it’s got to be machine made. Something that’s handmade is not perfect. When you’re looking at art, you can tell if it was made by hand or if it was made by a machine.”

The project is supported by the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library and by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation for the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and by the city of Brainerd.

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