Meet the Northern Spark artist: Keetra Dean Dixon and The Swing Hall, Swing All

(Editor's note: This Saturday night and Sunday morning is Northern Spark, an epic, city-wide party where hundreds of artists, performing groups, and creative organizations set up pop-up galleries, present theater pieces, and host other unexpected happenings throughout the city of Minneapolis. Before the big evening, we'll be taking a look at some of the people and places you may want to check out.)

Your name and your project's name: Keetra Dean Dixon, The Swing Hall, Swing All

Where we can find your work this weekend:

You can find my installation in the MCAD Skyway.

See also:

Meet the Northern Spark artist: Anthony Chapin and Erin Lavelle, Nighttime Post

[jump] Is this your first time participating in Northern Spark?

This will be my second time around. The piece was originally created for the 2012 Northern Spark, and MCAD was so happy with it they decided to do an encore. The 2012 crowd was amazing, they were so excited and up for anything. I wish I could be there to see the 2014 group!  

Tell us about what visitors can expect:

The Swing Hall, Swing All began with a series of works I did, called They all fall down, which were teeter swings. The swing studies were intended as metaphors for navigating social relationships. They were a fusion of two swings and a teeter totter balanced on a tall support structure. Using the swings was a negotiation of balance with your partner, predicting the other's movements, and constantly adjusting. It was difficult, risky, and fun.


In 2012, MCAD asked me to author something similar (but a tad safer) for public use. I wanted to integrate the same social-negotiation factors, but the larger motive was good old self-indulgent fun. I wanted to make something irresistibly playful and mesmerizing. The Swing Hall is a platform to watch people play in odd ways, and then join in on the action. It's a tiny adventure: We can be puzzled by the odd contraption, brave enough to take a swing, deal with the awkward bumps, and forget to be embarrassed by the scene. People can expect to share a weirdly fun moment with friends and strangers.

Please tell us a little bit about what you do creatively and why:

Most recently, I've been making moolah as an experiential designer, a position that oversees the design and fabrication of participatory installations, which is a fusion of interaction design, event design, and theater. But because my focus tends to meander, I'm happier working under the broad title artist/designer. Sometimes I'm tackling traditional graphic-design work, sometimes I'm building crazy ball-pits.

Name three things that influence your work right now:

  1. Remote locations. I just moved from NYC to Alaska! As soon as I settle in, I'll get to figure out how my practice can exist "out here."

  2. Emerging technology. I wish there was more time in a day so I could absorb it all! 3D modeling and printing is a new focus for me. The potential is dazzling!

  3. Unbuilding. I am deconstructing everything right now: my life, my methods, my new house. I'll end up with a lot of little bits... then ASSEMBLING gets to happen. Who knows what little Frankenstiens will result.

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

  1. People-watching. I'm a bit of an introvert, but I am enamored with people. I love watching from a distance: imagining the dialogues, seeing awkward moments, seeing the surprise, the puzzlement, the resolve. Always delightful.

  2. Making. It's a compulsion. Got to make.

  3. Learning. I love figuring it out, it's one of the big reasons I can't settle on a medium. If it's new, I'm learning and loving it.

(And all three things are still the heart of my inspiration.)

In addition to Northern Spark, what do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?

Right now I'm tackling Alaska, sharing posts at and on Instagram at @keetradeandixon. Currently I am just sharing unearthed treasures, but a clearer story should unfold before long.

After the new studio is running, I'm hoping for a whole new body of work!


Northern Spark


9:01 p.m. to 5:25 a.m. Saturday, June 14

Various locations

For more info, and a complete schedule of happenings, visit