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Concept proposals 'Sky B' and 'Esker C1' for Region 4 – “Endless Sky - Dynamic Layers" by artist James Peterson (final design yet to be determined)
     Concept proposals 'Sky B' and 'Esker C1' for Region 4 – “Endless Sky - Dynamic Layers" (final design yet to be determined)


The Region 4 Selection Committee for Arts Across the Prairie: Placemaking in Rural North Dakota announces large-scale sculptor and designer, James Peterson as the artist for their project titled – “Endless Sky - Dynamic Layers." After receiving more than 35 applications, the committee - consisting of stakeholders, community members and artists - conducted two rounds of reviews and interviews. Three finalists submitted proposals complete with concept renderings/drawings and estimated budgets. The installation will be located on private property near the Dahlen Esker site, midway between the city of Fordville, in Walsh County, and Dahlen, a small unincorporated community in Nelson County.

Peterson presented numerous design concepts to the Selection Committee. While a design has not been finalized, the committee was drawn to imagery inspired by the vast North Dakota sky and the eskers that snake through the region. (ESKER = a glacial deposit, or a long narrow ridge of sand, gravel, and boulders deposited by a stream that melted away, leaving a complete reversal of the topography.) Peterson explained his concepts, ‘SKY’ and ‘ESKER’, "are tall aluminum pipes arranged in layers that create multiple winding pathways to move through while compelling viewers to gaze up towards the endless sky. The pipes are color-coated providing another layer of visual depth and complexity as the light is reflected on them."

In his final application, Peterson wrote, "I cannot overstate how delighted I am to have this vast rural landscape as a venue for one of my artworks. I see these concepts as robust artworks that celebrate the power and beauty of North Dakota’s landscape. Inspired by the very forces that shaped our world, these artworks invite you to experience the wonder of our natural world in a way that is truly unforgettable."

Peterson will do an initial site visit mid-July 2023 to plot accurate measurements of the existing terrain and connect with the Region 4 Stakeholder Group to finalize the design. A Community Gathering is set for Tuesday, July 11 at 6:30pm at the Wells restaurant and bar in Fordville where both Peterson and glacier expert Jaakko Putkonen, Associate Professor, UND College of Engineering and Mines, will be in attendance. For more information about the gathering, visit arts.nd.gov/events or email Brenna at bblahren@nd.gov.

James Peterson Bio

Head and shoulders of James Peterson with thick salt and pepper hair and beard, wearing a jean jacket with a large public outdoor artwork behind himOriginally from Muskegon, Michigan, James Peterson is a large-scale sculptor and designer who has installed artworks at various locations across the United States for over 15 years. He graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design with a BFA in sculpture, while also exploring design, illustration, and art history. His artistic evolution has featured fluid and dynamic work that includes both organic and mechanical motifs with a focus on immersive interaction. Grounded in mathematics to achieve the form, his sculptures are a representation of how nature grows and develops.

James has exhibited at the Pacific Design Center, Art Basel Switzerland & Miami, Miami Biennale, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Kunst Raum Switzerland, Coachella Art & Music Festival, Meow Wolf Vegas, Burning Man, Maker Faire, and more.

In addition to his purely artistic pursuits, James has been featured in a contraption-based television show and a myriad of feature films. He now operates his own design and fabrication house, Art & Contraptions after working in Hollywood’s visual effects industry and teaching digital fabrication at SCI-ARC (Southern California School of Architecture).

Currently, James resides in Los Angeles with his wife and son. To see images of his past works, visit his website: www.ArtContraptions.com.

Arts Across the Prairie (AAP): Placemaking in Rural North Dakota
AAP is a first of its kind, statewide Creative Placemaking program, developed by North Dakota Council of the Arts. Eight large-scale art installations will be created that reflect the unique history, landscape, and cultural heritage as defined by Stakeholder Groups in each of these regions. All eight artworks will be placed in decidedly rural locations. (Rural = no buildings, no people!) The art installations will reference and represent the natural setting, as well as the cultural and economic history of each region.

North Dakota has eight distinct regions. Northeastern North Dakota’s Region 4 is comprised of Pembina, Walsh, Grand Forks, and Nelson Counties. Regional and local leaders from business, arts, education and community were recruited and met over a year’s time to formulate a roadmap for the development of one site to be the artistic, historical, and cultural representation for all four counties. Interesting concepts emerged: water, resilience, the movement of Native people and immigrant settlers, transformation and the landscape of steep hills and valleys, open prairie with endless sky and stars. In seeking a location to best represent the cultural heritage of Region 4, six sites were seriously considered. Ultimately, the Stakeholders selected private land near the Dahlen Esker, along State Highway 32.

The statewide Arts Across the Prairie: Placemaking in Rural North Dakota program is a collaboration with North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), North Dakota Commerce/Tourism, and the ND State Legislature. NDCA is also working with Red River Regional Council in Grafton and Public Arts Commission in Grand Forks to facilitate the Region 4 project.

Sponsor logos for Arts Across the Prairie project in Region four, including ND Dept of Transportation, Commerce, Council on the Arts, Red River Regional Council and Public Arts Commission

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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