You are browsing an archived site for a previous Northern Spark event. To visit the current site click here.

You are browsing an archived site for a previous Northern Spark event. To visit the current site click here.

Emily Johnson/Catalyst with Maggie Thompson,
Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars

Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is a multiyear project focused on all night stargazing. The project includes in equal measure: quilt-making, performance, storytelling, song, and stargazing. It relies upon people coming together to voice intentions, to witness, work, experience time, rest, and imagine.

Then a Cunning Voice… is rooted in community visioning sessions held in partnership with the Native American Community Development Institute; “What do you want for your well-being? For your family and friends? Your neighborhood? Your city, town, or reserve?”

These intentions are gathered on quilt squares which are sewn into a modular series of quilts during community sewing bees. Once created, the quilts are laid together to become one large 4,000 square foot area upon which we will host all-night stargazing including curated moments of silence, performance, stories, and First-Nations star knowledge.

Then a Cunning Voice… at Northern Spark will manifest as an all-night Community Sewing Bee. Participants are invited to write on quilt squares and help us in sewing the quilts. All are

Welcome. No experience necessary. We will provide materials, but bring a headlamp if you have one!

Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. A Bessie Award-winning choreographer, she is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and New York City. Originally from Alaska, she is of Yup’ik descent and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment—interacting with a place’s architecture, history, and role in community.

Maggie Thompson is a textile artist and designer, with a focus on knitwear and weaving. She was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is a member of the Fond Du Lac Band of Ojibwe. With a Waldorf education, she was introduced to textiles at a very young age, and knit her first pair of socks at age 10. In 2013, she received her Bachelor of Fine Art in Textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work calls attention to its materiality exploring different structures and technique. She is inspired by her Native Ojibwe heritage along with her passion for skateboarding, surfing, and the great outdoors. For her fine art, she works in a variety of mediums from machine knitting to weaving, exploring ideas of Native authenticity and what it means to be a contemporary woman.

Team Credits:

Emily Johnson, Director, Emily Johnson/ Catalyst

Julia Bither, Company Administrator and Project Manager

Meredith Boggia, Creative Producer

Maggie Thompson, Quilt Designer

Ain Gordon, Director

Krista Langberg, Performer and Lead Collaborator

Aretha Aoki, Performer and Lead Collaborator

Quilt construction by volunteers in:

Minneapolis, MN (Two Rivers Gallery, Ivy Building’s Studio 207, Anishinabe Academy)

Richfield, MN (Richfield Farmers Market, Augsburg Park Library, Village Shores Senior Community as a part of Richfield Artist Resident Engagement Program in partnership with Forecast Public Art and The Cornerstone Group)

Tallahassee, FL (COCA in partnership with MANCC)

Williamstown, MA (North Adams Makers Mill in partnership with Williams College)

Development support comes from Williams College, through a two-year choreographic residency supported by the Mellon Foundation. Research is supported by MAP Fund and development residencies with Forecast Public Art and The Cornerstone Group (Richfield, MN).


View more photos from Then a Cunning Voice… on the Northern Spark Flickr here!


Presented by


Mill Ruins Park Enter at W River Pkwy and Portland Ave S


9 pm—5:26 am


Emily Johnson
(b.) Sterling, AK
(works) Minneapolis/New York
Visit Website