Our Excellent Teaching Staff

The Guild offers weekly classes in dance, music, theater, literary and visual arts. Students, young and old, novice and experienced, are invited to explore their creative voices as they are guided by teachers who are working professionals, certified art instructors and passionate artists. Classes are taught with a focus on sequential development of skills with the aim of establishing the groundwork for aesthetic development and a life long appreciation of the arts.

El Guild ofrece clases semanales de danza, música, teatro, literatura y artes visuales. Los estudiantes, jóvenes y mayores, novatos y experimentados, están invitados a explorar sus voces creativas mientras son guiados por maestros que son profesionales en activo, instructores de arte certificados y artistas apasionados. Las clases se imparten con un enfoque en el desarrollo secuencial de habilidades con el objetivo de establecer las bases para el desarrollo estético y una apreciación de las artes para toda la vida.

GUILD CLASS LEADERS & FACILITATORS

Connie Albers is a long-time resident of Northfield who retired from St. Olaf College in 2018. She has always loved gardening, and became a Master Gardener in 2019. Her love of flowers carries over into photography, and now pressed flowers. She’s thoroughly enjoyed ceramics classes at the Guild studio, and is happy to take a turn at teaching a class herself. 

Julie Anderson has been teaching Rosemaling since 1998. In the fall of 2020, she started teaching virtually, and students from all across the United States, as well as international students, have attended virtual classes. Her Rosemaling classes are primarily in the Hallingdal, Telemark and Os styles with a focus on techniques and helping students learn how to interpret and paint what they see, design, color and ways to express themselves in their painting int he style of their choice. She also paints and has taught other styles of folk art, such as Swedish Dalamaining/Kurbits and German Bauernmalerei and has studied with American, Norwegian and Swedish artists who paint these styles. Julie received an honorable mention in the 2019 Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum National Norwegian-American Folk Art Exhibition.

ArtMakers Staff  ArtMakers brings together artists with disabilities and local, professional and student artists to create art together and build community. Disabilities. Arts. Community. https://www.artmakersmn.org/  Jim Rossow (he/him) — Chicago theatre veteran with a long resume of acting, singing, directing, producing, teaching, puppetry . . . and working with adults and kids with disabilities. Has directed and performed in a variety of Arts Guild productions over the years. Has produced several ArtMakers shows, many at the Hotspot in Northfield. Jaime Rossow (they/them) — Musician, dog trainer, and budding sound+tech engineer, with performance experience from NYC to Northfield — including Arts Guild productions. ArtMakers’ Zoom guru. 

Jennie Autonoe is a visual artist and writer of poetry and prose, has released a  children’s book, and is currently working on a graphic novel, and a book of poetry. She is a credentialed teacher, bilingual in Spanish, and currently the Education and Engagement Manager for the Guild. She considers art to be a gathering point for people of all ages, backgrounds and proficiencies… it’s one of the “foods” of the heart and soul.

Ana Baez Fredrickson Ana Baez Fredrickson is a teacher, dancer, and choreographer.  She founded the Guild’s Baile Folklorico Mexicano group in 2005.  While living in Sinaloa, Mexico, Ana earned degrees in dance, choreography, and folkloric arts, as well as dancing professionally with the Folklorico group Mukila Mazo for 15 years.  Before moving to the Northfield area, Ana served as director of dance education for the state of Sinaloa

Emmy Erickson is from Woodbury, Minnesota, and is a Vocal Music Education major at St. Olaf   College. She believes that music is a language that everyone can speak, and a way to connect with people like not many other things can. Emmy has a passion for both music and education, while making sure that music programming and love of music continues to grow and ignite in people of all ages.

Rafael Estrella is a graduate of Carleton College, a certified art educator, and currently teaching for the Northfield School District. When he is not teaching art, he is drawing, creating ceramics, coaching, playing soccer, or reading.

Julie Fakler creates vibrant original domestic animal paintings and pet portraits. She received individual artist grants from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council for projects that promote animals from the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society (2011), S.A.F.E. Sanctuary (2014), and Southeastern MN Farm Animal Portraits (2017). Fakler is the Visual Arts & Education Director at the Paradise Center for the Arts, and sits on the SEMAC Arts Advisory Panel. She holds a BFA in painting and drawing from   Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Recently Julie has received a 2021 Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Rita Gomez is a dance and fitness enthusiast who began dancing at a young age in Latin American countries. She loves to combine dance and exercise as a way to stay fit and healthy. “It’s just too difficult to pick a favorite dance genre because there are so many good ones! Currently I’m loving Brazilian Samba and Carribean Soca.”

Fred Gustafson taught Art for 39 years in the Duluth Schools, before moving to Northfield about 5 years ago and became involved with the Northfield Arts Guild Clay Studio. His work reflects his interest in both Mexican Folk Art as well as Chinese Brush Painting: Hua.

Deon Haider is a seasoned improv actor, who grew up in Northfield and has participated in many Northfield Arts Guild shows as a performer, director, and designer. She has been studying and performing improv for nearly 10 years. She trained at HUGE Theater in Minneapolis, and is an active member of the Twin Cities improv community. Currently, Deon performs with the groups Crossworlds, The Latest Night, and Tracktastic. Deon holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Theater Arts, and has a special passion for education. She has taught and directed kids and adults of all ages in both scripted and unscripted theater. She also works as a community health educator with the University of Minnesota Extension.

Rachel Haider is an accomplished theater arts director, instructor, and performer directing shows with both adults and children of all ages. Her extensive resume includes work with professional, community and educational theaters. Some of her recent area productions include It’s a Wonderful Life, The Lion In Winter Peter Pan The Importance of Being Earnest The Prince and the Pauper Matilda, The Great Northfield Bank Robbery: A Love Story and, Les Misérables. She has taught in public and private schools, as well as with several arts organizations. Rachel has served as both the Performing Arts Manager and Interim Executive Director at the Guild.

Judy Kutulas has been an amateur potter since high school who found an outlet for her interest at the Guild about 15 years ago.  That interest has intensified since she retired from her day job, teaching History, Gender, and Film\Television classes at St. Olaf College.  She is also on the Arts Guild’s Board of Directors, where she advocates for all things clay


Bailey Magnuson is a student at St. Olaf College, and has been performing on stage for the last 12 years. She has been working with youth and co-directing children’s theater camps for several years, while also teaching classes independently. Bailey has studied voice for 8 years, and continues to do so in both private settings, as well as with St. Olaf choirs. With 4 years of studio dance and show choir experience, she looks forward to her upcoming study in dance in New York! She is excited to share her spark for performing and passion for the impact of arts with young people, and sees this as a lifelong adventure.

Melissa Martinson began to fall in love with clay in the fall of 2013 by taking ceramics courses with Ron Gallas at St. Olaf College. Melissa has taught clay classes to children and adults at multiple art centers. While teaching, Melissa hopes to teach others the impact clay can have on an individual. Melissa is currently a Licensed Social Worker at Rice County Social Services and is currently attending Adler Graduate School to pursue a master’s degree in Art Therapy.

Yazmin Moktan is a painter from Kathmandu, Nepal. She received my BA in Studio Art/Education from St Olaf in 2018, and her MFA in Painting from University of South Dakota in 2022. Her favorite things to paint are women and animals.

Victoria Nolasco is a 38 years old mom of 4 kids. She’s been a Northfield resident for more then 20 years, and started her fitness journey 6 year ago, and has been a Zumba instructor for 5 years. She is so happy for each and every one who attends her classes, because they have fun forgetting about the every day problems life. In her Zumba classes she sees people let go of stress and show happiness every time they finish a class. “You also burn more then 600 calories!” she says. Victoria’s classes are for everyone, at all levels, and everyone is so welcome.

Margie O’Loughlin taught vinyasa, hatha, and restorative yoga classes in the Twin Cities for 10 years. She was fortunate to teach in a variety of settings including gyms, memory care facilities, homeless shelters, corporate settings, libraries and parks. Prior to teaching yoga, she was a ballet dancer and choreographer in Minneapolis and New York City.

Jody Polson Jody is a classically trained Pilates teacher who brings a holistic approach to her practice. When you take a class with Jody you can expect her to intuitively create a grounding and energizing movement experience. Jody has built a loyal following as her students love her warm-spirit and natural ability to connect with them in the present moment. For over 15 years, Jody has been facilitating various mindfulness and movement modalities in addition to Pilates, including goddess dance and the Nia technique.

Charisse Ponder is a teacher, choreographer and dancer for over 30 years in the Twin Cities and Northfield communities. She is a Classical Ballet trained dancer who carries this training into all her works. She has studied at the Joffrey Ballet and a variety of schools in New York City. She has performed with St. Paul Classical Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theater, Prairie Home Companion, Joe Chivala’s Flying Foot Forum Residency, Four Seasons Dance, and with Young Dance All Abilities Classes. Charisse is currently teaching with Young Dance in the classroom, outreach programs, and the all abilities program. She also taught at Zenon and Four Seasons Dance in Minneapolis. Charisse is particularly passionate in the study of language and culture and speaks Spanish and French.

Andrea Sjogren has taught tap, ballet, and jazz for over 25 years and served most recently as Tap Director at two different south metro dance studios. Andrea studied tap, ballet, and jazz from early childhood into adulthood, has enjoyed performing in a variety of productions, and has participated in master classes by many of the tap “greats” over the years. Andrea served on the Board of Directors of Twin Cities Ballet for many years and is passionate about musical theater and the performing arts in general.  Andrea is the current Executive Director of the Northfield Arts Guild.

Karen Smetana has previous training in tap, jazz, and ballet and is interested in all forms of dance and movement. Most recently she learned some salsa, merengue, & bachata as well as gypsy dancing. She enjoys music and the process of linking it to dance and fitness movements.

Kate Stuart teaches dance, dance fitness, and music in Northfield and the Twin  Cities.  She has been involved with the Guild teaching dance and music since 2009, and more recently has participated in several Purple Door Youth theater projects as costume supervisor and as stage manager.  Kate is also the Music Director of the Twin Cities Recorder Guild and the costume designer for Baile Folklorico at the Northfield Arts Guild.

Mar Valdecantos is a writer, artist, translator and community organizer originally from Spain, and a Northfield resident since 1998. She moved to the US in 1996. Before 1997 Mar’s art was included as illustrations in published books and entered in different contests in her native country. She has participated in several exhibits where her home portraits and historic building portraits were showcased, and also makes postcards and cards from her own sketches. She has participated in collective exhibitions and has taught art classes for the Summer and Winter PLUS  and BLAST programs for elementary and middle school students in Northfield, as well as classes at the Guild since 2015.

 Kathy Weed has been a quilter for many years, always exploring different aspects of textile art . Her passion has been nature since she was a young child. In her art quilts, She tries to capture  nature’s amazing beauty , especially ;  birds, flowers, and trees. Recently, she’s designing collage animal kits for children. This way they can explore a fun and easy way of using textiles.

Meg Witt has been involved in the ceramics world since 2004 when she began taking classes with Ron Gallas at St Olaf College.  Meg has taught classes both at Northfield Arts Guild and at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault.  She has also participated in the Studio Art Tour of Southern Minnesota in past years.  Meg is passionate about using ceramics to express oneself and hopes that everyone can find balance in the pursuit of playing in the mud.  Meg is a clinical mental health counselor at River Valley Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.