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Announcing Northern Spark 2017 Collaboration with Metro Transit to Launch a Specially Commissioned Train Wrap by Andrea Carlson; the First of Nearly 70 Artist Projects for the Annual Festival
612.284.2815 (voice mail)
2751 Hennepin Avenue South / Ste. 231
Minneapolis, MN 55408


Announcing Northern Spark 2017 Collaboration with Metro Transit to Launch a Specially Commissioned Train Wrap by Andrea Carlson; the First of Nearly 70 Artist Projects for the Annual Festival

From sunset on June 10 to sunrise on June 11, Northern Spark 2017 is a free all-night art festival exploring the effects of climate change through participatory projects happening in neighborhoods along Metro Transit’s Green Line.

Northern Spark 2017 will illuminate and draw audiences to neighborhoods and public spaces all along the METRO Green Line, connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul. Experience the largest Northern Spark yet, with nearly 70 art projects organized around neighborhood nodes: Cedar Riverside/West Bank, Weisman Art Museum/East Bank, Little Africa/Snelling, Rondo/Lexington, and Little Mekong/ Western. In downtown Minneapolis the festival moves from its usual river location to The Commons, the new green space at Portland and 5th, and culminates in Saint Paul at Union Depot, the Green Line terminus in Lowertown.

Northern Spark Metro Transit Partnership
To kick off Northern Spark 2017, Northern and Metro Transit have partnered to commission a spectacular full-color train wrap created by artist Andrea Carlson, which will run through June 10. Carlson has taken as her theme a water panther on one side with the Dakota words Mni Wiconi (water is life). On the other side of the train is a thunderbird with the words Nibi gaa-bimaaji’iwemagak (water gives life) in Ojibwe.

In an urban context, paved streets are like tributaries feeding rain and runoff into nearby rivers of the watershed. According to Northern Spark Co-Director Steve Dietz, “Carlson’s design is both a memorial to the power of water and a plea to honor it in all our uses, especially as human activities lead to increased risk of droughts, severe weather events, melting ice caps, sea level rise, and ocean acidification as just some of the water-related effects of climate change.”

Carlson is an internationally recognized painter and media artist who lives and works in Chicago IL and Saint Paul MN. Her Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), French and Scandinavian heritage provides a rich foundation for her investigations of cultural consumption, history and identity, and the intrinsic power of storytelling. Her work is in prominent collections including those of the Weisman Art Museum, the British Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada.

The train is a reflection not only of Northern Spark’s connection to the transitway but of Metro Transit’s commitment to sustainability.

The Green Line construction project included several stormwater management features that help prevent runoff from entering the nearby Mississippi River, including tree trenches and rain gardens. The Green Line’s Operations and Maintenance Facility in Lowertown also has a stormwater capture system that helps provide water for irrigation and restrooms at CHS Field.

“This partnership is a great opportunity to not only bring our community together but also to highlight our organization’s strong commitment to sustainability in all its forms,” General Manager Brian Lamb said.

Metro Transit is among just a few transit agencies to earn Gold Level certification through the American Public Transit Association’s Sustainability Program.

Northern Spark Artists
Northern is proud to announce the participation of the following artists in Northern Spark 2017. Christine Baeumler, Julie Benda, Arlene Birt, Rachel Breen, Valentine Cadieux, Andrea Carlson, John Colburn, Barebones Productions, Shá Cage, Craig David, Preston Drum, Deborah Elias, Sara Endalew, James Everest, Sara Fowler, Candida Gonzalez, Nooshin Hakim, Jessica Hirsch, Ross Hutchens, Wu Chen Khoo, Thomas LaBlanc, Kenny Lee, Tou SaiKo Lee, Meena Mangalvedhekar, Ifrah Mansour, Mary Jane Mansfield, Leslie MacKenzie, Greta McLain, Ben Moren, Mystery Spot Books, Roger Nieboer, Sheronda Orridge, Sami Pfeffer, Nickey Robare, Areca Roe, Regula Russelle, Mohamed Samatar, LaBresha Saulsberry, Aki Shibata, Emily Stover, Tony the Scribe, Clarence White, Khamphian Vang, Pramila Vasudevan, May Lee-Yang, Yes, Let’s!, Marina Zurkow.

Northern Spark Program Council
This year we’re excited to introduce the first Northern Spark Program Council, a leadership group of artists working with Northern and our Neighborhood Partners to inspire participation from artists and residents in cultural communities along the Green Line. In 2017 the Program Council is organizing artists in Little Mekong, Little Africa, Rondo, and on the West Bank to present projects at Northern Spark that respond to climate change from culturally diverse perspectives. We thank them for their insight and participation: Adan Dirie, Sara Endalew, Graci Horne, Filsan Ibrahim, Pa Na Lor, Brittany Lynch, Sagirah Shahid, Aki Shibata-Pliner and Ahmed Yusuf.

Northern Spark Neighborhood Partners
Key organizing partners for the festival are: African Economic Development Solutions, Asian Economic Development Association, Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, and the West Bank Businesses Association.

Northern Spark Presenting Partners
As with every iteration of Northern Spark, we are grateful to our numerous presenting partners: Altered Aesthetics, Arts Culture and the Creative Economy of the City of Minneapolis, Danza Espanola, Forecast Public Art, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Minnesota Sacred Harp Singing Convention, Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, Mizna, Motion Poems, Patrick’s Cabaret, Printland Press, Public Art Saint Paul, Somali Museum of Minnesota, Saint Paul Saints , St. Cloud State University Art Dept., Saint Paul Public Library, Textile Center and Weaver’s Guild of Minnesota, The Southern Theater, TPT, Twin Cities Union Depot, UW-Stout School of Art and Design, Weisman Art Museum, Zeitgeist

Climate Rising Collaboration Partners
Climate Generation, Conservation MN, Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment, MN350, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Take Action

Northern Spark Community Partners
Brian Coyle Center, Capitol River Council, Cedar Cultural Center, Cedar Riverside Neighborhood Revitalization Program, Frogtown Neighborhood Association, Hamline Midway Coalition, High School for Recording Arts, Hmong American Partnership, Midway Chamber of Commerce, Mixed Blood Theater, Union Park District Council

Festival Background
Since 2011 thousands of Minnesotans and visitors have enjoyed Northern Spark, an annual all-night arts festival illuminating public spaces and streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul with video projections, temporary installations and experimental performances. Memorable projects from past Northern Spark festivals include Chris Larson’s Celebration/Love/Loss, Jim Campbell’s Scattered Light, Luke Savisky’s Ex-MN, Pramila Vasudevan’s In Habit, and countless other projects from artists such as: Works Progress, Piotr Szyhalski, HOTTEA, Cloud Cult and Futures North’s Phase Change, which won SxSW’s design award in 2016.

Northern Spark is produced by Northern, a Twin Cities arts organization whose work ranges from large-scale public art platforms like Northern Spark to Art(ists) On the Verge, a year­long mentorship program for 5 emerging artists working with innovative uses of technology. We support artists in the creation and presentation of art in the public sphere, such as at St. Paul’s Union Depot (Amateur Intelligence Radio), “choir karaoke” at the Minnesota State Fair (Giant Sing Along) and most recently Words For Winter, programming poetry into the construction landscape along Nicollet Mall. Through projects such as Ruination: City of Dust, a location-­based environmental mystery game played on bicycles along Minnehaha Creek, and the monthly climate conversation series, Anthropocene Awareness Association, our work helps audiences explore expanded possibilities for civic engagement through art.

Steve Dietz, 952.994.4118
Twitter: @NL_mn
Instagram: @Northern
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