Sandbag surprises

MPR photo Dan Gunderson

Volunteers and homeowners handing sandbags down the line in Fargo got a few surprises this year.

The North Dakota State University sandbag art project decorated thousands of sandbags like this one spotted atop a pile of unused bags in a south Fargo neighborhood.

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The project was the idea of Michael Strand, associate professor of visual arts at NDSU. He took several thousand empty sandbags and distributed them to places like daycare centers and senior living facilities. The bags were decorated with permanent markers.They were then added to the stacks of sandbags filled earlier this year at sandbag central in Fargo.

Strand said the idea was to maybe bring a smile to tired sandbaggers. He also used it as a teaching tool for his art students.

"It gets our students to think about the inclusion of community with their own work," he said. "Art can exist as creative activity, community outreach, research and service all at the same time."

It's likely Fargo will have more than a million unused sandbags left over from this years flood fight. The plan is to store them in a warehouse for the next flood. So some of the sandbag art could show up in sandbag lines during the next flood too.