Northern Lights is a roving, collaborative, interactive media-oriented, art agency from the Twin Cities for the world. It presents innovative art in the public sphere, both physical and virtual, focusing on artists creatively using technology, both old and new, to engender new relations between audience and artwork and more broadly between citizenry and their built environment.

Northern Lights supports global and local artists working particularly at the intersection of disciplines to freely create new work that excites the senses, explores ideas that matter, and re-imagines ways of energetic engagement among artists, institutions, sites, and audiences.

Molly Balcom Raleigh is an artist and development consultant who works with Northern Lights.mn to grow individual giving and audience communications for Northern Spark.  She believes giving is a creative act that everyone can participate in, and views Northern Spark’s Audience Development work as an opportunity to bring passionate people together through their shared values around innovative art and lively public space. Before launching her consulting practice in 2013, Molly served as the Development Officer for Forecast Public Art and as Membership Manager at Minnesota Public Radio. She holds an Individualized Bachelor of Arts in Food Studies and Performance Studies from Goddard College, and lives and works in St Paul, MN. (mollybalcomraleigh.com)

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 Art Direction and Design for Northern Spark. He is an independent art director and graphic designer working in Minneapolis, MN. His clients include Blu Dot Design & Manufacturing, Cohan and Leslie Gallery, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Marianne Boesky Gallery, Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis College of Art & Design, Minnesota Museum of American Art, 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 STEP magazines. Visit matthewrezac.org for more information.

Tyler Stefanich is an artist and designer based out of Los Angeles. He was born on the Iron Range in Minnesota. Tyler received his BFA with a focus on Web and Multimedia Environments from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and ian MFA from UCLA’s Design | Media Arts Department in Media Arts. He currently works as the Manager for the UCLA Game Lab as well as the Developer for Northern Lights.mn.

Elizabeth N. Armstrong is Assistant Director for Exhibitions and Programs and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA). Prior to joining the MIA staff, she served as Deputy Director for Programs and Chief Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) in Newport Beach, California, from 2001-2008; Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, from 1996-2000, and as Curator at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, from 1982-1996. Exhibitions to her credit include Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury; Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone; the 2004 and 2006 California Biennials; Ultrabaroque: Aspects of Post-Latin American Art; In the Spirit of Fluxus; In a Restless World: Peter Fischli and David Weiss; and Jasper Johns: Printed Symbols. She has published numerous books and catalogues on contemporary art, and her articles have appeared in Artforum, OCTOBER, Print Collector’s Newsletter, and Arts Magazine. Armstrong received her M.A. in the History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley, and B.A. in American Studies from Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts. In 2007, she was one of ten curators selected nationwide to participate in the inaugural year of the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

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.

Colleen Doran is a mother of five, a lawyer, and a creative entrepreneur who has most recently been involved in the opening of the acclaimed Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza restaurant concept.

Ms. Doran graduated from St. Catherine’s University with a degree in Communications.  She had a successful real estate practice until 2004, when she decided to fulfill her lifetime dream of becoming an attorney.  She graduated cum laude from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2007.  After a brief interlude with the Social Security Administration, where she learned she was actually unemployable by others, she opened her own law practice focusing on small business development.  At the same time, she and her husband were opening their own small business, Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza.  Today Colleen continues to practice a small amount of law, but focuses primarily on the business operations of the two Black Sheep Pizzas.

She is actively engaged in her community through volunteer work and targeted fund raising efforts for various artistic and civic causes.

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.

Vince Leo is Vice President of Academic Affairs at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. His photographic work has been exhibited internationally and he has written for publications such as Artforum, frieze, and Parkett.

Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. Architects and Interior Designers Jeff has practiced architecture in Germany, France, U.K. and the U.S. focusing on cultural, institutional and work-place projects. He currently serves as a program chair on the Building and Equipment Section of the Library Administration and Management Association of the American Library Association. Previous volunteer work has included chairperson of IFP Minnesota, Library Foundation of Hennepin County, Libraries for the Future and the MN Library and Information Network Governor’s Task Force. Known for leading the discussion on important issues surrounding libraries, information technology and conveyance and the workplace today, he is a frequent conference lecturer for The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), American Library Association (ALA), and Public Library Association (PLA) and has co-authored numerous articles and books on topics such as libraries creating a sense of place in communities, changes in technology and distribution of information, and sustainable design for libraries. His innovative office work has been featured in Wired Magazine and The New York Times. Jeff’s professional experience includes the design for clients such as McKnight Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, Andersen Corporation, Herman Miller, Pre-Paid Legal Services, SEI Investments, and Urban Outfitters. He taught design and practice at the College of Design at the University of MN from 1978-1998. A founding principal of the firm, he was elected into the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 1998 and serves as MS&R’s CEO.

After ten years as a successful entrepreneur, Gary Smaby joined the Minneapolis-based investment banking firm of Piper Jaffray as a vice- president /senior analyst. He built an international reputation as a Wall Street analyst in the IT sector and was promoted to Managing Director, Technology Research. He then joined the New York investment firm of Needham and Co. as Managing Director, eventually leaving to form his own firm, Smaby Group, Inc. In 2000 Gary co-founded Quatris Fund, an early-seed stage venture capital fund formed with St. Paul Venture Capital. Gary was the president of the Minnesota Venture Capital Association in 2003 and currently serves as board chair for four start-up companies, Algos Therapeutics, finEye, Pontus and Iconoculture. Gary just completed a six-year term on the Board of Trustees for the Science Museum of Minnesota. He also served for five years on the External Advisory Board for the Deep Computing Institute at the IBM TJ Watson Research Laboratory. In addition, for more than forty years, Smaby’s artistic eye has peered through a camera lens; capturing memorable images that run the gamut from classic portraiture to experimental new media. He has trained his lens on an eclectic range of subjects: from legendary rock stars and Nobel laureates to breathtaking landscapes from the Himalaya to the Serengeti. His acclaimed body of work has been variously featured on gallery walls, album jackets, as well on the web and in publications such as The New Yorker.

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