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.


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.

Marion Angelica is a teacher and has a studio at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. Her work is represented in over twenty-five galleries nationally, and she offers workshops throughout the U.S. Read more about Marion at marionangelica.com

Caryn Bittenger is the creator of S.T.E.P.S LLC (Social, Thinking, Emotional, Physical, Self), in which she strives to reach children, parents, caregivers, educators, support staff & community for a holistic approach to using mindfulness & movement. Caryn received her Masters of Arts from Columbia College in Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling. She as worked with a wide range of populations in various settings, which has allowed Caryn to experience that the power of movement is universal.

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 in a way that not many other things can. Emmy has a passion for both music and education, while making sure that music programming and the passion for 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. 

Jennie Eubank (Autonoe) is a visual artist and writer of poetry and prose, has released a children’s book (for all ages!), and is currently working on a graphic novel, in between gouache paintings. 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 the “food” of the heart and soul.

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.”

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.

Amy Hallberg, Courageous Wordsmith, is a graduate of Carleton College and the Loft Literary Center’s Foreword Apprenticeship in Creative Non-fiction. She’s a Martha Beck Master Certified Life Coach who holds certificates in editing and translation from the University of Chicago. Amy’s true-life novel, German Awakening: Tales From an American Life, features Northfield. Her podcast is “Frau Amy’s World: Conversation with Real-Life Creatives”.

Kristine Holmgren, as a pastor — especially as a female pastor — is used to being in the public eye. In addition to speaking from the pulpit, Holmgren has reached people across the country through the informally syndicated column she wrote for the Star Triibune and as a commentator for National Public Radio. That exposure has perhaps helped prepare her for her newest venture as a playwright. Kristine’s plays include: Paper Daddy, Sweet Truth, and God Girl. Holmgren considers her playwright career an extension of her ministry. In writing for the theater, Holmgren uses both her training in ministry, and wide exposure to people, to create real characters facing genuine, authentic struggles. “I believe in a happy ending,” she said. “Even though my plays do not always end that way.”

Diane LeBlanc is a teacher, writer, and book artist with roots in Vermont, Wyoming and Minnesota. She is a professor of interdisciplinary studies, and the director of writing at St. Olaf. She teaches a variety of courses, including composition, creative writing, creativity, and history of the book. She has published five poetry collections, most recently The Feast Delayed (May 2021), numerous poems and essays, and a history of women in sport, Playing for Equality: Oral History of Women Leaders in the Early Years of Title IX. Honors and awards include the 2019 Fineline Competition award from Mid-American Review and the 2020 runner-up award for the Donald Murray Prize in Creative Non-fiction. Diane lives in Northfield and enjoys time in the Natural Lands with her golden retrievers Carver and Ida.

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.

Sachiko “La Chayi” Nishiuchi, a native of Osaka, Japan, is a Twin Cities based Flamenco Dancer, teacher, choreographer and organizer. Besides her works as an independent artist, she dedicates her time for community work in Flamenco including directing Twin Cities Flamenco Collective. She lived and studied the art of Flamenco in Seville, Spain from 2010 to 2015, which became the foundation of her current dance and work. For more information visit: www.sachikolachayi.com, www.facebook.com/sachikolachayi or www.instagram.com/sachikolachayi/

Katherine Norrie is a visual art teacher at Northfield High School. Katherine has been teaching at NHS since 2000, after graduating from St. Olaf College in 1999 with a Studio Art and Education major. Katherine earned her Master’s Degree in Education from Hamline University in 2005. Katherine teaches six different elective courses at NHS including: Art Foundation, Drawing & Painting I, Watercolor I, Watercolor II, Printmaking and Honors Art. Katherine enjoys working as a professional artist in all areas of art, but primarily in printmaking, jewelry design and painting. Katherine lives in Northfield with her husband and two sons.

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.

Becky Pearson is a visual artist living in Cannon Falls. She is a creator of jewelry and decorative items made from all kinds of materials, most currently polymer clay. Becky teaches clay classes at senior living facilities and loves every challenging minute of it. She holds a degree in Graphic Arts and attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, but says her most valuable learning experiences have come from her own experimentation. Many of her projects were completed simply because she wasn’t aware that she couldn’t do it.

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.

Deborah Reynolds has a BFA with an emphasis on painting and drawing. Although painting will always be her first love, she has a desire to grow artistically, and continually seeks out new and different art mediums. Currently, she is hand sewing with felt, fabric, and ribbon. In addition to her artistic activities, she also enjoys gardening, walking her dog, and taking new classes.

Kathleen Richert has been involved in the textile arts for 25 years. Primarily a garment maker, Richert’s background includes teaching classes in surface design and dyeing, pattern drafting, general sewing, garment construction, tailoring, knitting, crochet, and the imaginative use of materials. Her textile art is equally varied, from party dresses made of Mylar snack food packaging, Coca Cola cans, movie film, and chocolate, to millinery work, to lace-like “drawings” made using the sewing machine as a drawing tool. Richert runs an arts-based business specializing in the production of historically accurate clothing and soft props for museums, costume work for commercial, theater and dance productions, and restoration projects. She is energized by preserving and teaching traditional handwork skills.

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.

Judy Saye-Willis is a visual artist from Rice County and has lived in rural Minnesota her entire life. Her current 2D and 3D work is focused on the use of natural pigments and dyes from locally grown and foraged materials and from international suppliers of natural dye colorants. Judy has received in depth training from Michel Garcia an internationally known botanist, chemist, and natural dye scholar. She uses natural dyes and organic materials to produce bodies of work on textiles and paper for Installation Art, Exhibitions, Public Art, Wearable Art and Home Decor. Her intellectual curiosity about the mysteries of nature, color and how things work provides inspiration. Her work is compelling and speaks to environmental stewardship and the choices we make that impact human conditions and the bridges that bind us together.

Shari Setchell  is both a registered yoga teacher and certified Global Somatics Practitioner; she applies somatic and yogic principles training in her ballet instruction. A multi-time choreographer for Northfield High School’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival she also choreographs the fall musicals there. Shari teaches dance at Arcadia Charter School, and choreographs musicals at regional theaters. In all her work, Shari focuses on empowering her dancers to find their own unique style.