St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf, Carleton team with award-winning artist to produce ‘The Northfield Experience’

Award-winning Artistic Director Stephan Koplowitz works with students as they rehearse for The Northfield Experience, a site-specific, immersive performance event that uses the town of Northfield as its canvas and inspiration.

Students from St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, as well as local Northfield residents, are collaborating on a historic site-specific event to immerse audiences in theater, dance, music, and visual and digital art. The Northfield Experience will take audience members on a walking tour to several locations throughout Northfield, where the spirit of history, industry, and scholarship will come alive through the direction of award-winning Artistic Director Stephan Koplowitz.

“When asked to create a collaborative performance for the two colleges, I found the city of Northfield to be the ideal shared subject matter and location for such an event,” says Koplowitz. “It’s been an exciting journey to create The Northfield Experience in dialogue with this unique and extended community.”

Students rehearse their performance at the Northfield Public Library.

As an artist, Koplowitz has produced projects throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Since 1984, he has created 91 works of art in addition to receiving Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Alpert, NEA fellowships and awards. His work aims to alter people’s perspectives of place, site, and scale, infused with a sense of the human condition, concerned with the intersection of natural, social, and cultural ecologies within urban and natural environments.

“This is an incredibly unique performance, pairing music, dance, art, and theater programs at two well-renowned colleges with the talented people who live in our community,” says St. Olaf College Professor of Dance Janice Roberts. “Stephan’s inspiration and creative vision have brought our community together. Our talented, passionate student artists have truly brought a town to life, and we can’t wait to experience it with everyone.”

“Our talented, passionate student artists have truly brought a town to life, and we can’t wait to experience it with everyone.”

This progressive venue production will feature nearly 300 performers and 30 visual artists at locations around town.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to work with a very high-caliber guest artist on a very ambitious project,” said Steve Richardson, Carleton’s Puzak Family Director of the Arts. “Working with St. Olaf and our Northfield community makes it possible to create something of this scale, and provides even more opportunity for our student-artists to work and interact with each other.”

Featured performances

  • The Grand (with media installations by St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Art Peter Nelson and Carleton Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies Laska Jimsen, and theater performance directed by St. Olaf Associate Professor of Theater William Sonnega)
  • The Depot (with an original score by St. Olaf student composer Eli Baumgartner ’18)
  • The Library (with an original score by St. Olaf student composer Michael Creighton ’19)
  • The Hvistendahl & Partners “Bank Building” (with visual/sound installation by composer Andrea Mazzariello and visual artist Holly Streekstra of Carleton)
  • Northfield Arts Guild Theater (with a short site-inspired play of monologues written by Brendon Etter, in collaboration with and directed by Stephan Koplowitz, performed by actors of the community)
  • The Northfield Historical Society (with a multi-channel video installation done by St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Art Peter Nelson in collaboration with St. Olaf students Kat Bluett ’18, Cookie Sales Imperial ’19, and Evan Weselmann ’17).
  • The Northfield Cemetery (finale, with original vocal score by composer and St. Olaf Professor of Music Justin Merritt, with the combined Manitou, Viking (St. Olaf side) and Carleton choruses)

The Northfield Experience performances cost $6 and run from Friday, May 4, through Sunday, May 6. For tickets or more information, visit the Northfield Arts Guild and The Northfield Experience.

In addition, a visual art exhibition, The Northfield (Exhibition) Experience, has been specifically curated in conjunction with The Northfield Experience. This exhibition will be open April 18 through May 12 in the Main Gallery of the Center for the Arts in Northfield.

The Northfield Experience is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Get a sneak peek of the project in this video: