The longest nights of the longest year

Sarah Peters

Poem by Liani Rey as part of Words for Winter on Nicollet Mall, 2017.


The long nights at this time of year mark a half-way point before the longest days of the year – a time when we are usually out in public with thousands of our friends enjoying art installations at Northern Spark.

2020 was going to be strange for Northern no matter what, with our intrepid founder stepping down last spring and the planned hiatus of Northern Spark. Little did we know those would be the least of our challenges.

Despite the entwined twin pandemics of disease and racism and their economic fallout, this year was not without joy and achievement. Here are a few bits to celebrate:

  • We started, and paused, and restarted the 11th cohort of Art(ists) on the Verge.
  • With the help of two brilliant artists, we converted an in-person fundraiser into an online project within the span of two weeks last March for Spring Howl 2020.
  • The 3rd Artist Council (formerly known as the Program Council) dreamt up and put to PDF a set of guidelines for making our beloved night-time arts festival. Read it here Relationships & Reciprocity: A Guide to Making Northern Spark or watch the video.
  • We teamed up with fellow St. Paul friends and partners to support the 24th Annual Drive In and Online Peace Celebration.
  • In collaboration with a stellar intern from Macalester college we launched a research project to form a possible projector rental program for Twin Cities artists.
  • Working again with All My Relations Arts, NACDI, Mississippi Park Connection and the National Park Service we commissioned and then paused a large-scale animated projection work by Moira Villiard as the 4th Illuminate the Lock project. Madweyaashka: Waves Can Be Heard is rescheduled for late February 2021.
  • We made glow in the dark t-shirts and hoodies!

What we’re looking forward to in 2021: 

Participatory work by the artists of Art(ists) on the Verge 11. Look for public projects to emerge in spring / summer 2021.

A new form of Northern Spark, curated and crafted by the Artist Council with us to create COVID-safe form and trauma-aware modes of connection in summer 2021.

Working equitably with artists, partners, places and you to make meaningful, awe-inspiring, compassion-producing, fun works of art in the near and far beautiful future. 

See you there!