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.

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.

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image Jerome Foundation Minneapolis College of Art and Design

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.

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.

After receiving her graduate degree from the University of Minnesota, Teeko did what any other stereotypical millennial did and traveled overseas for 6 months. During her travels, she worked with Colour Your City in London, UK developing the business plan and overall strategies for sustainability. Previous to that, she was at Impact Hub MSP where she founded and created the first artist entrepreneur program. Believing in creating platforms, Teeko was part of the founding creative placemaking team at Asian Economic Development Association- leveraging arts and culture for economic opportunities and establishing the largest Southeast Asian Night Market in Minnesota.

Upon returning from her travels, she now manages a diverse team of artist leaders in co-creating Northern Spark 2019.

In her spare time, she sits on the board of Hmong Museum and helps her father’s auto service business in West Saint Paul.

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.

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.

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

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.

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 my B.A. with distinction in architecture from Yale University and my 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.