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head and shoulders of Jessica Christy with long, full, straight dark hair, fair skin and a sweet closed smile; wearing a black shirt with a book shelf in the backgroundFollowing an extensive national search, North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) is pleased to announce that Jessica Christy has been selected as the next executive director of the agency. Christy joined the team on May 13, 2024, and will work side-by-side with outgoing Executive Director Kim Konikow until her June 14 departure date. Konikow has served as executive director since January of 2018.

Jessica Christy is a native North Dakotan, born to two artists on the Sanger Art Farm, located at the edge of the Sheyenne River Valley. Following a decade immersed in the arts scene of the Chicago area, where she dedicated her time to teaching and collaborating with numerous arts nonprofits and community initiatives, Jessica is excited to return to her home state. Her passion for uplifting communities through art drives her dedication to serving the people of North Dakota.

“The art spaces and programs in North Dakota played a pivotal role in shaping my creative journey. Now, as I return, I’m honored to both revisit my roots and enrich and expand upon the partnerships within the state. I’m committed to forging new connections, listening to the needs of our communities, and fostering meaningful collaborations with creatives across every corner of our state. I look forward to celebrating the diverse voices and stories that define North Dakota's artistic landscape," Jessica says.

Jessica completed her B.S. in Art at Valley City State University in 2007, followed by her MFA from the University of North Dakota in 2011. She contributed to the art community at the Jamestown Arts Center and taught at Minot State University before relocating to Chicago. There, she made her mark at the community printmaking studio Spudnik Press Cooperative and established BE Community Art Space, a pop-up gallery and arts space dedicated to offering free arts programs for local youth and families. While in Chicago, she remained committed to teaching printmaking and other art courses across the city.

Throughout her career, Jessica has kept an active studio practice, showing in over 150 national and international exhibitions such as The Long Dream at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Superusted for The Midwest Biennial at The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, and solo exhibitions PART TIME LAND SCAPE and Domestic Tides / Indigenous Mind, both of which have been exhibited in the upper Midwest.

Motivated by her commitment to accessible arts programming and education, Jessica is eager to serve communities throughout the state. She is thrilled to join the team at North Dakota Council on the Arts and looks forward to both building new connections and reconnecting with old friends.

Gov. Burgum expressed his gratitude for outgoing Executive Director Kim Konikow and shared a message for incoming Executive Director Jessica Christy stating, “Arts and culture play an important role in healthy, vibrant communities, and we are grateful for Kim's leadership at North Dakota Council on the Arts over the past six years. We wish her well as she embarks on her new journey, and we look forward to welcoming Jessica home to North Dakota to lead the Council on the Arts.”

NDCA Board Chair Dr. Shawn Oban said, "We are thrilled to welcome Jessica Christy as the new executive director of North Dakota Council on the Arts. Jessica's track record of leadership, commitment, and exceptional communication skills has consistently exceeded expectations. Her ability to lead and innovate, especially in critical areas like program management and fundraising, assures us that she will bring tremendous value and insight to the state of North Dakota and NDCA." 

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North Dakota Council on the Arts is the state agency responsible for the support and development of the arts throughout North Dakota and is funded by the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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