The Duluth Art Institute enriches daily life with dynamic, innovative visual arts programming that upholds excellence and promotes inclusive community participation.

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Christina Woods

Christina Woods, Executive Director

Member of the Bois Forte Tribal Nation 

A top talent, brilliant administrator and strategist, Christina is a talented leader. Her success includes a 14 year career teaching, writing curriculum and grants, fundraising, and diversity/inclusion consultation.  Christina brings an extensive range of non-profit experience as a board member, executive director and business leader.  As an Anishinaabikwe and community leader, Christina empowers individuals and illuminates the breadth of human experiences. Christina enthusiastically leads the vision of the Duluth Art Institute as its first Anishinaabe leader. Her focus is delivered with tender attention to advocacy rooted in celebrating inclusivity and professionalism. Christina thoughtfully serves our community with a vision to the future. Christina currently chairs the State of MN Capitol Arts Committee, is President of the Duluth Public Arts Commission, and serves on the State of MN CAAPB Task force on Monuments and Statues. Christina was awarded an AARP 50 over 50 most influential people in MN award as a bias buster.  She lives in Duluth, MN with her acknowledged home in the Bois Forte Nation in Northern MN.

Amy Varsek

Amy Varsek, Exhibitions Director

Exhibitions Director 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.

Mollie Gilbertson

Mollie Gilbertson, Administrative Assistant

Mollie Gilbertson has been a resident to Duluth/Superior for a little over eight years. Having created since childhood, she went on to study fine arts both at University of Wisconsin Stout and University of Minnesota Duluth. Mollie has a background as a special education aide and youth care counselor. Personally and professionally, she implemented her skills as an artist and effective communicator to make meaningful connections with people and the world around her. When it comes to her work, she focuses on the concept of time and how the nature of storytelling tends to defy it. Her dreaming life is a very important factor in the way she interprets reality, as she has described her dreams to be vivid and almost sparkling. Working with acrylic, she enhances the aged features of characters and atmospheres to give them a playful and timeless quality. She has multiple murals on display throughout the Twin Ports region. Mollie enjoys hiking, kayaking, journaling, and painting in her home studio.

Aurora Webster

Aurora Webster, Engagement &
Development Manager

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.

Liz Axberg
Liz Axberg, Community Outreach Coordinator
AmeriCorps VISTA 

Liz Axberg will be serving the Duluth Art Institute as the Community Outreach Coordinator through AmeriCorps VISTA. In May 2020, Liz graduated from St. Catherine University with a double major in Economics and Public Policy and a minor in Statistics. As a recent graduate, Liz is excited to apply the skills developed throughout college and volunteer experiences to give back to communities and promote equity. The Duluth Art Institute particularly caught her eye as she is passionate about how we can use art as a vehicle for community empowerment and uprooting false neighborhood narratives, setting the seeds for grassroots movements, and ultimately alleviating poverty. Liz looks forward to collaborating with the Duluth community to increase accessibility for our resources and expand our reach. Liz is especially excited to be in Duluth for all of the beautiful hiking, mountain biking, trail running, cross country skiing, and, of course, life by Lake Superior. 

Emma Spooner

Emma Spooner, Education Coordinator 

Emma Spooner is a multimedia artist who combines performance art, fabric collage, photography, sculpture, and written work to create narrative installations. She earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Art and Art History from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2020. Her Art History focus reflects her interest in performance art, geopolitical border art, and visual activism. Spooner is delighted to coordinate educational opportunities that enrich the community. Her community work includes participation in the Chester Bowl Improvement Club and Myers Wilkins School, working with youth in outdoor activities and promoting accessibility. Spooner enjoys biking, listening to obscure music, playing pick-up soccer, and gardening.

Robert DeArmond

Robert DeArmond, Ceramic Studio Manager


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. 

John Sager, Darkroom Manager


Business Office: 218.733.7560


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