MEET THE TEAM
Executive Director with 35 years of leadership experience, Christina brings an extensive range of non-profit experience as a board member, executive director, and business leader. Utilizing an Anishinaabe and community leadership lens, Christina appreciates the breadth of human experiences. She enthusiastically leads the vision of the Duluth Art Institute as its first Anishinaabe leader. Her focus on advocacy and service is rooted in inclusivity and decolonization. Christina thoughtfully serves our community with a vision to the future. Currently reappointed, Christina serves on the State of MN Capitol Arts Exhibitions Committee, is President of the Duluth Public Arts Commission, served on the State of MN CAAPB Task force on Monuments and Statues, and sits on the Minnesota State Arts Board. Christina is also on the U.S. Senate Curatorial Advisory Board representing the Midwest. She was awarded an AARP 50 over 50 most influential people in MN award as a bias buster. She lives in Mesaabikong (Duluth, MN) with her acknowledged home in Onaminii-zaga-iganig (the Bois Forte Nation in Northern MN).
Aurora Webster is a designer and illustrator with a career-long focus integrating the worlds of fine art, illustration, and graphic design. In her six years of experience, she has worked with local print shop JS Print Group, illustrator Rick Kollath, and in a freelance capacity creating logos, personalized illustrations, murals, and book layouts. She graduated from Hamline University in 2017 with bachelor’s degrees in Studio Art and Psychology, with added Digital Media Arts classes. When she’s done with art stuff at work, she turns her attention to her other art stuff: theater, comics, video games, and creative bullet journaling.
Jesse is a comic artist and illustrator. He has spent the past decade working on freelance art projects in the music industry and the indie comic community. For him, comic art has been a meaningful way to connect with his Lakota traditions, specifically the practice of drawing winter counts (Annual pictorial records painted on an animal hide, traditionally kept by the Lakota people). His first connection with DAI was through the BIPOC Artist in-residency program at Laura MacArthur Elementary, where he worked at the preschool. He continued working with DAI through the BAM and Summer Camp programs where he guided his classes in creating a comic book zine.
Jesse is eager to continue working with those programs, now in the capacity of Education Coordinator. He is grateful for the opportunities that the DAI has provided him and he looks forward to supporting other artists while upholding DAI’s mission of innovation and inclusivity.
Exhibitions Director and Curator Amy Varsek joined the Duluth Art Institute in 2014, after nearly 10 years of experience installing artwork in small galleries. She aims to align each artists vision with the strengths and challenges in an exhibition space and looks for artists that evoke emotion through their work. As an artist, Varsek prefers drawing with a no.2 pencil and building sculptures with found objects. With a degree in biology, her work often represents the living world with a special interest in mammals and anatomy.
DeArmond comes from a long background of working in the arts and arts administration. Upon graduating from UMD in 1971, he worked as a full-time potter in the state of Virginia and then established his own shop and studio in Duluth. When the Duluth Art Institute was moving into the Depot, he was hired as the Executive Director, a job he held for eight years. From there he took the position of Development Director at KUMD, Duluth Public Radio, on the campus of UMD. He finished his career in arts administration as the Executive Director of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, a position he held for 30 years.
As the Clay Studio Manager, he mixes his organizational skills with the opportunity to get back in the studio producing pots and teaching.
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