Northern Lights supports artists in the creation and presentation of art in the public sphere, focusing on innovative uses of technology to imagine new interactions between audience, artwork and place and explore expanded possibilities for civic engagement.

Northern Lights strives to transform our sense of what’s possible in public space. Northern Spark is two nights, but Northern shines throughout the year with projects such as Creative City Challenge  with the City of Minneapolis, and Art(ists) on the Verge, The Giant Sing-A-Long at the Minnesota State Fair, and permanent, interactive public art for Saint Paul’s Union Depot.

Northern is a collaborative, interactive media-oriented, arts organization from the Twin Cities for the world. We create platforms with and for artists, audiences, and partners to experiment with and experience innovative art in the public sphere.


image Jerome Foundation Minnesota State Arts Board

Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.

Peters grew her roots in the work of art and community engagement at the Walker Art Center where she spent a decade organizing interpretive programs for adults. At the museum she directed the popular Target Free Thursday Nights program; facilitated a wide range of artist-in-residence projects, and co-led an institution initiative on contemporary art and civic engagement that manifested as a practical planning tool for engaging social issues using the arts. The resulting publication drew national attention and has been used by organizations ranging from the National Park Service to small arts groups in the Twin Cities.

In the final months of her tenure at the Walker, she worked with a team to conceptualize and launch the museum’s innovative participatory project Open Field. A book on Open Field that she co-edited was published in August 2012 and is available to read online.

She currently works as the Executive Director of Northern, an arts non-profit working with artists and place to explore expanded possibilities for civic engagement. At Northern she oversees strategic partnerships and initiatives, communications and a broad ranging outreach plan for all projects, including Northern Spark, an annual free, late-night public arts festival with attendance of over 50,000 people.

Peters has contributed to multiple other public engagement programs in the Twin Cities, including the “Arts on Chicago” placemaking project at Pillsbury House + Theater (2013), and working with Works Progress and the Mississippi Park Connection on a series of art and science programs about the Mississippi River (2011-12). She was a participating artist (2008) and later sat on the board (2012-2015) of the Art Shanty Projects, an ongoing Twin Cities wintertime public art event that takes place on a frozen lake.

Peters is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Floating Library, a collection of artist books on a raft that floats on urban lakes. The materials available for perusal and check out from patrons in boats. A Knight Arts Challenge winner in 2015, the project has floated on four Minnesota lakes in three cities over 5 years and in Los Angeles on Echo Park Lake in collaboration with Machine Project during the L.A. Art Book Fair in February 2016.

Steve Dietz is a serial platform creator. He is the Founder, President, and Artistic Director of Northern He was the Founding Director of the  01SJ Biennial in 2006 and served as Artistic Director again in 2008 and 2010. He is the former Curator of New Media at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he founded the New Media Initiatives department in 1996, the online art Gallery 9 and digital art study collection. He also co-founded, with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts the award-winning educational site ArtsConnectEd, and the artist community site with the McKnight Foundation. Dietz founded one of the earliest, museum-based, independent new media programs at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1992. Dietz has organized and curated numerous contemporary and new media art exhibitions, including Beyond Interface: net art and Art on the Net (1998); Shock of the View: Artists, Audiences, and Museums in the Digital Age (1999); Digital Documentary: The Need to Know and the Urge to Show (1999); Cybermuseology for the Museo de Monterrey (1999); Art Entertainment Network (2000); Outsourcing Control? The Audience As Artist for the Open Source Lounge at Medi@terra (2000); Telematic Connections: The Virtual Embrace (2001-02); a nationally traveling exhibition; Open_Source_Art_Hack (2002), with Jenny Marketou, at the New Museum, New York City; Translocations (2003), part of “How Latitudes Become Forms” at the Walker Art Center; State of the Art: Maps, Games, Stories, and Algorithms from Minnesota at the Carleton Art Gallery (2003); Database Imaginary (2004), with Anthony Kiendl and Sarah Cook, Walter Philips Gallery, Banff Center for the Arts; Fair Assembly, web-based projects for Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy (2005), with Peter Weibel and Bruno Latour, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany; The Art Formerly Known As New Media (2005), with Sarah Cook, Walter Philips Gallery, Banff Centre; Container Culture (2006), with Deborah Dormer-Lawler, Zhang Ga, Alice Ming Wei Jim, Gunalan Nadarajan, Ellen Pau, Johan Pijnappel, Soh Yeong Roh, Yukiko Shikata at the 01SJ Festival; Edge Conditions (2006), at the San Jose Museum of Art; and selected projects for the Ingenuity Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19-22, 2007. Dietz was artistic director of the 2nd Biennial 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge and curated its lead exhibition Superlight. Through Northern Lights he initiated the UnConvention, August 30 – September 4, 2008, a multi-organization collaboration, and he curated Spontaneous Storefronts (2008) for Forecast Public Art. In October 2009, he co-curated with Christiane Paul, FEEDFORWARD – The Angel of History at LABoral in Gijon, Spain. He was Artistic Director for the 2010 01SJ Biennial and co-curated, with Jaime Austin, the Biennial’s central exhibition Out of the Garage Into the World. In 2011, he is Artistic Director for the inaugural Twin Cities Northern Spark nuit blanche, and in the summer of 2012, he is  Artistic Director for ReGeneration presented by the New York Hall of Science. Dietz is editor of Public Address,  a forum for wide-ranging discussion of innovative artists, projects, and practices in the public realm. He speaks and writes extensively about new media and guest edited Public At Review on the topic of “Public Art 2.0 – Media, Technology and Community in the Interactive City.” His interviews and writings have appeared in Parkett, Artforum, Flash Art, Design Quarterly, Spectra, Salmagundi, Afterimage, Art in America, Museum News, BlackFlash, Public Art Review, Else/Where and Intelligent Agent; in exhibition catalogs for Walker Art Center, LABoral, Centro Parago, Site Santa Fe, San Francisco Art Institute, and aceart; and in publications from MIT Press, University of California Press, and Princeton University Press. Many of his writings are online at He has taught about curating and digital art at California College of the Arts, Carleton College, the University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Prior to the Walker Art Center, Dietz was founding Chief of Publications and New Media Initiatives at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and editor of the scholarly journal, American Art.

Robert is a registered architect with over 20 years of professional practice that includes work in cultural, commercial, education, civic, worship, and residential contexts. His experience includes working with multiple building committees, boards of directors, community groups, and local and state governments to achieve each project’s unique goals.

NL Treasurer Paul has played a major role in shaping the Twin Cities’ skylines. He has been instrumental in notable construction projects including the Palace Theatre, American Academy of Neurology, Minnesota Orchestral Association, and CHS Field.

Michelle Klein has extensive experience working with boards, sponsors, and donors at the Walker Art Center, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, and Midway Contemporary Art.

Jennifer is a licensed architect and installation artist. Her research probes the space between real, tangible bodies made of flesh, steel, concrete, glass, etc, and the perception of these bodies through images (two-dimensional surface conditions seen on screens, in projected video/stills, or within mirrors). Jennifer has worked with Adjaye Associates, Deborah Berke, and Cooper Robertson on planning and architectural projects emphasizing narrative, context, and how these evolve over time. She earned her B.A. with distinction in architecture from Yale University and her Masters in Architecture degree from the Yale School of Architecture, where she received the Fermin Ennis Memorial Fellowship and the Anne C.K. Garland Award. She also created the two-day symposium Black Boxes: Enigmas of Space and Race held at Yale School of Architecture.

Professor Phadke’s research and teaching is at the nexus of environmental studies, international development and science and technology studies. Her interests lie in the democratization of science and technology decision-making and the hybridization of technical expertise and local knowledge. Her current research focuses on private and public development of water and energy resources.

Sara joined Davis Law Office, she spent a decade, first as an associate and then as an owner, with a boutique firm working with tribes and their business partners. Before that, she spent three years as a litigation associate (with an emphasis on construction law) at a large Minneapolis law firm. Sara handles planning, coordinates financing, and negotiates construction and design contracts for tribal projects. She also advises tribes on governance; finance; environmental regulation; rights-of-way; energy development; jurisdiction; treaty rights; court development; and many other matters. In addition, Sara regularly represents vendors doing business in Indian country and beyond.