Northern Lights.mn 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.

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 one night, but Northern Lights.mn shines throughout the year with projects such as Creative City Challenge for the Minneapolis Convention Center, 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.

Molly Balcom Raleigh works with Northern Lights.mn to develop support and audiences for Northern Spark and other Northern Lights.mn programs. She believes giving — of time, money, and attention— is a creative act that everyone can participate in, and views development work for Northern Lights.mn and Northern Spark as an opportunity to bring passionate people together through their shared values around inspiring art and lively public spaces. In the past, Molly served as the Development Officer for Forecast Public Art and as Membership Manager at Minnesota Public Radio.

Molly was an Art(ists) on the Verge 6 fellow, and participated as an artist in Northern Spark 2011 and 2012 before joining the staff in 2013. As a practicing artist, she makes participatory performance and installation through media including food, singing, found objects and vernacular texts. Molly holds an Individualized Bachelor of Arts in Food Studies and Performance Studies from Goddard College, and is based in both the US and Finland.

Leslie is responsible for keeping Northern Lights.mn organized and for supporting all areas of the organization. Leslie is an active artist, who currently has a studio space in the Northrup King Building in NE Minneapolis and recently had pieces commissioned for the new Vikings Stadium. She graduated with an MFA in Drawing and Painting from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design May 2016, and she also spends her time as a teacher at Juxtaposition Arts.

Steve Dietz is a serial platform creator. He is the Founder, President, and Artistic Director of Northern Lights.mn. 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 mnartists.org 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 http://www.yproductions.com/writing/. 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.

Ady Olson is the Projects Manager for Northern Lights.mn, creating processes and structures for all of Northern Lights.mn’s projects and ensuring that artists and staff have the tools they need to present engaging work. Previously, she was the Operations Manager at Headwaters Foundation for Justice and prior to that studied comparative sociology, with a focus on art and social change, and math at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Ady enjoys spending time near water, experimenting with art-science concoctions, puzzling over mysterious matters, playing music, and creating maps, charts, and diagrams. She can probably spot a satellite in the night sky faster than you can, and she has a lifelong habit of setting up silly algorithms to spice up everyday decision-making.

Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time. She plays multiple rolls with Northern Lights: she is the Associate Director of the Northern Spark Festival, she is the Writing Mentor for fellows in Art(ists) on the Verge, and is the Director of Public Engagement on various NL projects. In the studio she makes books; on the water she rows a handmade boat and dreams of turning the lakes of Minnesota into a creative commons. She forwards this vision as a board member of the Art Shanty Projects.

Matthew is responsible for the Design Direction and Graphic Design for Northern Spark. He is an independent design director and graphic designer working in Minneapolis, MN. Some of his clients include Chronicle Books, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Lucia | Marquand, Marianne Boesky Gallery, Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota Fringe Festival, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Katherine E. Nash Gallery, Northern Lights.mn, Poor Farm Press, SVA MA in Design Research, University Art Museum (California State University, Long Beach), Walker Art Center, Weisman Art Museum, and ZER01: the Art and Technology Network. Rezac’s work has received numerous distinctions including both the AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers and 365 Awards and has been featured in HOW, Idea, PRINT, and STEPmagazines.

Tyler Stefanich is an artist and designer. His work, through installations and performances, uses software-based systems to explore issues related to history, memory and identity. Stefanich received a BFA in Interactive Media from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and earned an MFA from UCLA in Media Art. Currently he lives and works in Los Angeles, California, as manager of the UCLA Game Lab, a creative research center for experimental games.

Elle worked with Northern Lights.mn as the Volunteer Coordinator for Northern Spark 2016. Minneapolis-born, she relocated back to MN after spending two years working with Porte Parole, a documentary theatre company based in Montreal. At Northern Spark, she has a wide range of responsibilities from working with festival artists to maintaining the Northern Spark website. Elle is also a playwright, performance-maker and cultural producer.

Teeko brings three years of community organizing experience to Northern Lights.mn as a Project Associate in Creative Placemaking at Asian Economic Development Association, where she led community advisory boards to organize artistic programming for the Little Mekong Night Market and other initiatives. Teeko also serves as the Art and Culture Coordinator at Impact Hub MSP and is finishing a MA in Arts and Cultural Leadership at the University of Minnesota.

Sara is a theater and event producer based in Minneapolis.  Before joining the Northern Spark 2017 team, Sara enjoyed amazing adventures working with organizations such as the Blue Man Group, the Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Institute’s Film/Theater Labs, the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Ceremonies, the Toronto 2015 Pan and Parapan Games Ceremonies, the 44th UAE National Day Ceremony in Abu Dhabi and most recently producing the half time show for the Minnesota Vikings season opener in September 2016. In addition to her freelance work, Sara spends her days as the Production Manager of the Jungle Theater.

Dawn is a seasoned business consultant working with start-up businesses, grassroots organizations, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 enterprises. Her leadership expertise is focused on navigating strategic vision as well as energizing business development pursuits to help entrepreneurial organizations grow to their greatest potential.

For 30 years, Dawn has played violin in various ensembles from rock bands to professional orchestras with a dozen assorted recordings in her repertoire. She holds a dual degree Masters in Nonprofit Management and Business Administration from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.

Dawn integrates her diverse background into professional practice as Executive Director of Art Shanty Projects and Business Development Director at Northern Lights.mn. Combining artistic passions with her Master’s education, Ms. Bentley also serves as Adjunct Faculty at McNally Smith College of Music, Minnesota State University – Mankato, and in the University of Minnesota Arts and Culture Leadership program.

Emily has volunteered for the Northern Spark Festival annually since its first year in 2011, and joined the Northern Lights.mn staff as the 2016 Launch Party Producer. She is passionate about public art as a connector of people, and how it encourages confidence, community and fresh realities. She is currently a full-time Events Coordinator at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. As an artist, she explores bookmaking and working with sunlight, paper, and plant material.

Neal Cuthbert is the Vice-President of Program at the McKnight Foundation and oversees a grantmaking budget of $90+ million that supports children, families, and communities in the Twin Cities, the water quality of the Mississippi River, renewable energy, climate change, economic development in greater Minnesota, neuroscience research, third-world food security research, work in East Africa and Southeast Asia, and the arts. Prior to this, he was the Arts Program Director for 16 years. McKnight’s arts program provides between $8-10 million annually to support arts organizations and artists in Minnesota. While directing the arts program he developed a variety of reports and studies including an examination of cultural development in the suburbs, the impact of the arts in rural communities, and the condition of individual artists. With curator Steve Dietz, he led the development of the artist website, mnartists.org. He was formerly the director/publisher of the monthly art and culture journal, Artpaper, and a planner at the Metropolitan Council in the arts program and housing program. He is also a visual artist and writer, and has exhibited artwork and published writing both locally and nationally.

Steve Dietz is a serial platform creator. He is the Founder, President, and Artistic Director of Northern Lights.mn. 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 mnartists.org 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 http://www.yproductions.com/writing/. 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.

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

Support

image Jerome Foundation Minneapolis College of Art and Design