Northern From Agency to Wonder

Sarah Peters
A digital mock up of a book leaning against a grey background. The cover is bright red with black text that reads FROM AGENCY TO WONDER in all caps.
Digital mock up by Matthew Rezac.

Kickstarter orders are now closed. Stay tuned for other opportunities to acquire a copy.

Northern From Agency to Wonder is a multi-vocal, image-filled publication featuring a glossary of terms, memories, and essays that commemorates and reflects on Northern’s 17 years supporting artists’ work in the public sphere, published on the occasion of our sunset in June 2024.


The full-color, 320 page, softcover book includes:

  • glossary of 171 terms central to NL’s practice, written by NL staff and 45 authors from the NL community. Terms include: bicycle, collective effervescence, duration, free, interconnection, joy, public art alchemy, river, spectacle, and more. 
  • Anchor essays by NL’s founder and long-running Artistic Director Steve Dietz; NL’s long-time Co-Director Sarah Peters, and NL’s long-time Projects Manager and de facto librarian Ady Olson McNair 
  • Artist interludes by NL luminaries Molly Balcom Raleigh, Mike Hoyt, Hawona Sullivan Janzen, Roger Nieboer, Aki Shibata, Piotr Szyhalski, and Pramila Vasudevan  
  • Innovative book design, including ruminations on NL’s design history and strategies by Matthew Rezac
  • Chronology of all artists and partners who participated in NL programs  
  • Over 150 full-page, full-color images from beloved NL endeavors, including the Northern Spark festival, Art(ists) On the Verge fellowships, Illuminate the Lock and others.  

The title From Agency to Wonder directly references the glossary format of the book and it also summarizes the zeitgeist of NL – an organization that has always sought to support artists to inspire audiences toward agency in their environments, while providing a sense of uncommon wonder.


Renee Alexander, Christine Baeumler, Molly Balcom Raleigh, Lana Barkawi, Leslie Barlow, Kate Barr, Elizabeth Cole, Chris Conry, Neal Cuthbert, Steve Dietz, Dan Dressler, Katie Hargrave, Jess Hirsch, Mike Hoyt, Kerri Jamison, Emily Janisch, Hawona Sullivan Janzen, Muhammad Jiwa, Jamie Kalakaru-Mava. Gülgün Kayim, Erin Lavelle, Kim Loken, Meredith Laura Lynn, Ryan McGoff, Ady Olson McNair, Amy McNally, Michael Murnane, Roger Nieboer, Katie Nyberg, Valerie Oliveiro, Tyler Olsen-Highness, Taylor Rose Payer, Alejandra Pelinka, Sarah Peters, Matthew Rezac, Rebecca Ryan, Aki Shibata, Sara Shives, Moheb Soliman, Tyler Stefanich, Liza Sylvestre, Piotr Szyhalski, Elle Thoni, Sara Van Norman, Pramila Vasudevan, Matt Wells, Margit Wilson, Peng Wu, Marina Zurkow

Book Leadership Team

This project is steered by Sarah Peters, Ady Olson McNair, Steve Dietz and Matthew Rezac. All of us, in our own ways, have given a big part of our lives to the vision and everyday workings of Northern, including the decision in January 2023 to sunset with grace.

For us, working on this book was an important process of closure. It allowed us to reflect, remember, and consider our years of work with a concentration of attention not often afforded to an organization when facing an operational sunset.

It also gave us the chance to engage in conversation with 45 artists, partners, and colleagues with whom we worked over the years, and learned so much from. Their voices are critical to this publication, and to NL’s existence. We are honored to publish their words and images as part of our story.  

Kickstarter orders are now closed. Stay tuned for other opportunities to acquire a copy.

*The image shown here is for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the final book.