Northern Newsletter – January


  • Climate Chaos | Climate Rising
  • Northern Spark 2016 call for proposals
  • In the News: Northern Spark
  • Climate Link of the Month

Climate Chaos | Climate Rising
Introducing Northern Spark 2016 and 2017 Theme


Climate Chaos | Climate Rising: Perceive
Model Delta Basin, Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory

“I think calling it climate change is rather limiting. I would rather call it the everything change because when people think climate change, they think maybe it’s going to rain more or something like that. It’s much more extensive a change than that because when you change patterns of where it rains and how much and where it doesn’t rain, you’re also affecting just about everything.” — Margaret Atwood

Now that 195 nations have agreed to limit C02 emissions into the atmosphere the trajectory of our collective attention can shift from whether or not our global climate is changing to how we as a species can mitigate and adapt to the effects of this change.

Northern is ready and excited to embrace this shift. After all, artists have been beating the environmentalist drums for decades—from Agnes Denes’ Manhattan Wheat Field—A Confrontation (1982) to Mel Chin’s Revival Field (1991) to Natalie Jeremijenko’s ongoing Environmental Health Clinic.

Climate change is a potent, chaotic brew of interconnected, disparate, fluid, evolving, long-term consequences that form an attenuated chain of cause and effect over millennia that is almost impossible for any one person to fully comprehend. From industrialized C02 production to extreme weather events to sea levels rising to water tables dropping to massive migrations and a sixth extinction, climate change seems to imbue every aspect of daily life with the threat of chaos.

We believe, however, that climate change is so much more than the science and even so much more than the critical actions that must be taken to mitigate the worst-case scenarios of rising temperatures. Climate change fundamentally challenges us to think about and act upon what it means to be human.

For the next two years, Northern, through our programming for Northern Spark, will present the work of artists under the rubric Climate Chaos | Climate Rising. In collaboration with local communities and organizations we’ll reinforce the trajectory of moving from a chaotic overload of information and issues to an uprising of action and activities. Artists’ voices and visions will help turn a sense of powerlessness and overwhelmment to concrete actions anchored in a realistic and hopeful map for the future. Along the way, we’ll explore the concept of Anthropocene, not just as a geological indicator of human influence but as a philosophical prompt for how we want to be in the universe.

In our exploration Climate Chaos | Climate Rising, we will focus on a number of broad themes intended to build from current science and provide space for questions and contemplation: Move, Nourish, Interconnect, Perceive, and Act. To find out more about how we’re knitting together these themes, visit

Northern Spark 2016 Call for Proposals

Deborah Miller, MURMUR, Northern Spark 2011. Photo: Nicole Larson.

Want to present your work at Northern Spark? We are seeking artist proposals for projects for Northern Spark: Climate Chaos | Climate Rising on June 11, 2016. We are looking for projects in 3 different categories: projection, artworks in any medium, and workshops.Proposals are due Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 9pm CST.

Read about the call and submission requirements here.

We will be holding optional office hours where you can ask questions and get feedback on your proposal on February 17, 5:00 – 6:30pm at 530 University Ave SE in Minneapolis. See the call for more details.

In the News: Northern Spark

  • Northern has received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works grant for Marina Zurkow’s Making the Best of It: The North, a large scale food project to be presented at Northern Spark in collaboration with geographerValentine Cadieux and architect/artist Aaron Marx. Making the Best of It is an umbrella concept for a series of regionally site-specific pop up food shacks and community dinners that feature a climate-change enabled (and often unwanted) edible indicator species, in order to engage the public in tastings and conversation about the risks of climate chaos, our business-as-usual food system, and the short term food innovations at our disposal.
  • The McKnight Foundation has awarded Northern a grant to support Chill Out, an installation by Futures North of locally harvested ice, passively stored during the winter, and used to create a “chill space,” which will be heated by lamps that pulse algorithmically based on historic environmental data, melting the ice throughout the course of the night at Northern Spark 2016.
  • Northern Spark has been voted the Best All-Night Art Party in the Twin Cities byMpls St Paul Magazine

Climate Link of the Month

Pedro Marzorati, OUPPSSS!!, ARTCOP21

Each month we bring you a piece of our climate research that we think you’ll find interesting. This month read President + Artistic Director Steve Dietz’s thoughts about hisvisit to ARTCOP21 in Paris last month, including a review of the artworks he saw there.