GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. -- Local artists Vern Northrup and Diamond Knispel will be featured at the MacRostie Art Center starting Friday, June 4.

The MacRostie Gallery will present “Akinomaage: Teaching from the Earth,” an exhibit of photography by Vern Northrup. The Minnesota Gallery will showcase the paintings of Diamond Knispel in “Wild Whimsy of the Northwoods.”

Vern Northrup, a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, uses photography as a tool to educate viewers about the rhythm of nature, the preservation of tradition, and the relationship between resilience and sustainability, a release said.

This exhibit follows the cycles of the year in Naagaajiwanaang (Fond du Lac) and celebrates the gifts each season brings. Northrup describes his photos as “what the Creator lets us see.” Through the camera lens, his eye captures patterns and details among familiar landscapes. Images from the sugar bush, blueberry picking, and manoomin harvest are a reminder of the gifts that the earth provides and the reciprocal relationships that are the foundation of a sustainable life.

The MacRostie Gallery will present “Akinomaage: Teaching from the Earth,” an exhibit of photography by Vern Northrup starting June 4.
The MacRostie Gallery will present “Akinomaage: Teaching from the Earth,” an exhibit of photography by Vern Northrup starting June 4.

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According to the release, Northrup retired in 2011 after a 25-year career as a wildland firefighter and fire management expert with the Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. In retirement, he started riding a bicycle for his health and it was while out on these rides that he began taking photos with his iPhone. Northrup had his first solo exhibition in 2015. He then worked with the Duluth Art Institute, which curated the collection of photos in Akinomaage and published a book to accompany the exhibit. His photographs have been shown Duluth, Bemidji, and at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Diamond Knispel, of Laporte, creates paintings inspired by the biodiversity of the natural world. Her works capture the vibrant colors and textures in unseen and imagined moments in the northern forests. Through her exhibit, she encourages viewers to tread lightly and look carefully at the wonders of the wild world, the release said.

“I create art because I want to share the feel of the wild world with my audience while also keeping those feelings close at hand for myself,” Knispel said in the release. “I view the world as colorful and full of life and that is what I try to represent in my work.”

The Minnesota Gallery will showcase the paintings of Diamond Knispel in “Wild Whimsy of the Northwoods” starting June 4. This painting is titled "The Blue Beary Patch."
The Minnesota Gallery will showcase the paintings of Diamond Knispel in “Wild Whimsy of the Northwoods” starting June 4. This painting is titled "The Blue Beary Patch."

According to the release, Knispel has been creating and teaching art for nearly a decade. She was one of the first Artists in Residence in the city of Grand Rapids’ artist residency program in Old Central School. She has taught at MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, and Headwaters Music and Arts in Bemidji, in school-based residencies, and through art programs with Itasca Life Options and the Northern-Cass DAC. Knispel currently works for Headwaters Music and Arts and as an artist out of her home studio in rural northern Minnesota.

The public is invited to experience the new exhibitions opening June 4 at MacRostie Art Center in downtown Grand Rapids or online at macrostieartcenter.org.