Artist Sonja Madsen's design chosen to adorn outdoor fitness court to be constructed in Willmar's Sperry Park

·2 min read


— Artwork by Willmar resident Sonja Madsen has been selected to adorn the outdoor fitness court that will be constructed at Sperry Park this summer.

Willmar City Council

at its meeting May 1 approved Madsen's design for the mural that will be featured on the wall that separates the 38-by-38-foot open court and the 38-by-38-foot court with seven stations of fitness equipment.

City staff worked with the

Willmar Area Arts Council

to contact local artists for submissions, receiving several from local residents and narrowing the choices down to two, according to City Administrator Leslie Valiant.

Madsen's artwork features graphics of humans doing outdoor activities like running, biking and swimming through landscapes and connected by a graphic trail.

The outdoor fitness court and mural will be visible from U.S. Highway 71, according to Valiant. Sperry Park, located near the Sperry House on the grounds of the Kandiyohi County Historical Society, borders the highway in northeast Willmar.

"Sonja's feature really represents all the activities that can be done within the city, and then it kind of flows through with that trail idea," Valiant said of the artwork. "We really thought that this was a piece of artwork that really shows what we are trying to represent in our parks and trails."

Madsen is a Willmar native who has spent the last four years attending Northern Michigan University in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She will graduate with bachelor's degrees in art and design and anthropology, according to Valiant.

She will be returning to Willmar this summer and is "passionately interested in this opportunity," according to the memo in the City Council meeting packet. Her artwork connects "different aspects of our community — bringing together enthusiasts of art, the outdoors and exercise."

"Sonja's design concept revolves around the idea of Willmar being her home and being connected to nature through fitness and fresh air," the memo stated.

The city of Willmar is the first city in the state of Minnesota to receive a grant from the

National Fitness Campaign


Blue Cross Blue Shield

of Minnesota to construct an outdoor fitness court, receiving $70,000 to help fund construction of the court and an additional $25,000 for the artwork on the court.

Madsen will be paid $3,000 for creating the piece of art and the remainder of the $25,000 will fund the installation of the mural, Valiant explained.

The city has received three quotes for the concrete work that will have to take place to construct the court, and work will begin as soon as the ground is ready for construction, according to Valiant.