Contact information

  • Ann Klefstad
  • 5913 London Road
  • Duluth MN 55804
  • 218-393-9149

Artist Bio

Ann Klefstad has lived by the shore of Lake Superior, and a five-minute walk from forest and river in the city of Duluth, for twenty years. During this time she has been creating sculptures and other works that respond to this environment.
     Early influences were diverse, from Rodin to Southern Sung and Zen ink painting to Fluxus. She is not an adherent of signature style, but instead chooses media and ways of working that allow her to serve the esthetic needs of her environment, and that communicate well.
      She works as a features writer and critic as well as a public artist, and is open to commissions. She has created many sculptures and sculptural environments by commission and is currently working on a piece for the Lake Superior Zoo that will memorialize the barn animals who died in last year's flood.
Her work with photos of Lake Superior's waters, taken from her sailboat and her kayak, can be seen on  Her clips of award-winning features and reviews can be found at

Artist statement
I live in the room with no ceiling—my home is the world of forest and water. I strive to create work mimetic to my experience here, which will evoke both the grace of the natural world and the discomfort of its fit with our built world.
            My forest environments, painted in tar on plywood, are taken from  the forest that I walk through every day. They're created from substances that are dual: plywood is the flesh of trees, peeled and glued into modular sheets. This is a great material; it enables use of smaller timber from second-growth forests.  It is a transformation, positive on one side, negative on the other. The tar I use is asphaltum, a natural substance that is the million-year-old elixir of ancient forests—the carbon remnant of a forest that lived once, like ours. But for many people tar evokes roads, gasoline, the petro-economy that's changing our climate, gradually killing the trees native to the boreal forest where I live through plant diseases fostered by mild winters.
            The animals that live in those environments—the deer and wolves of my developing body of work "Pack and Herd"—are also double. I use Cor-ten steel, rolled and folded like origami, to create lively animals from metal. They have machinelike aspects, but natural size and gesture. Their oxidation—chemical burning—colors them. In a way they respire.

The Pack is necessary to the Herd, the Herd is necessary to the Pack. Natural systems work regardless of human categories  . . .  I think they have much to teach us about the nature of the world, much larger and older than us, and the choices we make because we have set ourselves apart, as we must, from the dialectical and inexorable flows of nature. Nothing here is simple.
            The Walk on Water work also brings the raw imagery of the natural world into conjunction with the material qualities of a manufactured world. I take these photos out on Lake Superior in my kayak or my small sailboat. I'll spend a week or so alone on the sailboat, and venture into the midst of the lake. The photos I shoot of water surfaces are attempts to escape from conventional scenic treatments, which can elide the nature of the water in their immediate recursion to preconceived ideas of the beautiful. I'm trying to gather images of what the water does when it's by itself, what it is in its motion and rest. I then print these images on galvanized steel, another common building material, which I bracket to the wall and allow to fall in whatever curve the metal dictates. I give the water to the steel and the steel to the water. These substances, so often commandeered for distinct human purposes, have much in common, and each informs the other in this presentation.

I love the boreal environment along Lake Superior, where I live, with all my heart. I hope as an artist to find ways to create work that compels both sensation and thought about what that environment is, what it may mean, what we do to it, how it changes, what we may want for it. I don't want to proselytize, but rather problematize our relationship with this environment and our uses of it. I want to develop ways of working with the subjects arising from this environment that erase nostalgia, idealization, and kitsch in favor of making conscious both the nature inherent to the place and the nature of our uses of it.

Art Resume (from 2000)


American Association of Landscape Architects Merit Award for “Floodwaters,” a sculptural environment in two parts done for the City of St. Paul for the Harriet Island Park Plaza (collaboration with Jeffrey Kalstrom).

Page One Awards from the Society for Professional Journalists: Best Short Feature (for feature on artist John Steffl) and Best Magazine Article (Service).

Selected Shows and Commissions

2013,   Commission, Memorial to the Barn Animals, 5’ x 2’ x 2’, bronze. Lake Superior Zoo, in process, completion date June 20. $9,000.
2012,   "4 From the North," four-person show, Nordic Cultural Center, Duluth, MN. This show will tour to Westerheim Museum in Decorah, IA, this fall.
2012,  One-person show, "Living Room," sculptural environments, Gallery 13, 811 LaSalle St., Minneapolis, MN.
2012,  Healing, commission, Lake Superior College Health Sciences Building, $30,000. 
2011,  Iron Deer in the Steel Forest, commission, Arrowhead Library Association, $12,000
2011  “Saa, Skaper Vi Fred / So, we create peace”, 4-person show to honor the visit of the King and Queen of Norway. Norway Hall, Duluth, MN.
2011,  “Forest” at Zeitgeist Arts, one-person show.
2010,  Walk on Water, minishow at Stone’s Throw, Bayfield, Wisconsin.
2010,  Bird x Bird, Northrup King Center, Minneapolis
2009,  September 10, participant in "A Book About Death" at Emily Harvey Foundation, New York. Collaborative book/postcard project and performance evening.
2009   September, "Walk on Water," at Central Lakes Community College, Brainerd, one-person show.
2009  "Water Works," group show for Lake Superior Day, Marine Museum, Duluth. Show reprised at Great Lakes Aquarium.
2008   In Bird x Bird, Northrup King Center, Minneapolis.
2007  “3 Women,” Duluth Art Institute, 3 person show.
2007   In Bird x Bird, Northrup King Center, Minneapolis.
2007   “Forest,” University of Wisconsin--River Falls
2006   Finalist, Waterford Project, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
2005   "Forest," Finlandia University Gallery, Hancock, Michigan, one person show.
2005   Commission, Fargo Metro Transit, Earth/ Heaven : Prairie/ Sky, $10,000.
2004   Commission, Tall Pine, memorial for Rudy Perpich, commissioned by the Perpich Center for Arts Education, Golden Valley, Minnesota. $10,000.
2003   In “Body of Clay, Soul of Fire,” travelling show of work from the St. John’s     University Jerome Fellows program.
2002    Winter Deer in the Minnesota Museum Sculpture Biennial.
2002    Commission, Minnesota State Arts Board Percent for Arts, Archimedes Waterfall for Hibbing Community College (with Jeffrey Kalstrom). $24,000
2001    Commission, Minnesota State Capitol, Unearthing History, a bronze wall relief for the     State Capitol Rotunda. $10,000.
2000    “Old Stories” at the St. John’s University Gallery (with Jeffrey Kalstrom).
2000    Floodwaters, multipart sculptural plaza environment, a commission for the city of St. Paul, for the Harriet Island Levee Project (with Jeffrey Kalstrom). $80,000.
2000    “Forest for the Trees,” at the Duluth Art Institute, one person show
2000     Columbia Garden Park, a Neighborhood Gateway for the city of Minneapolis (with Jeffrey Kalstrom), a multipart park environment.  $50,000.


2010    Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Project Grant, for “Walk on Water.”
2000    Minnesota State Arts Board Career Opportunity Grant, for “Forest for the Trees”
1999    Minnesota State Arts Board Career Opportunity Grant, for “House of  Beasts.”
2000    Jerome Travel Grant, to study bogs in northern Minnesota.


2010.  Review of “The Quick and the Dead,” Peter Eleey’s large group show of conceptual art at the Walker Art Center, for Sculpture magazine.
2008-11. Several articles for : on Frank Big Bear, on the Tweed Museum’s new Nelson Collection of native arts, more.
2007-2009  Many pieces on the arts for the Duluth News Tribune; I was the staff arts reporter.
2008    Article on Franconia Sculpture Park for Sculpture magazine and book.
2007    Cover article for Sculpture magazine on the Anselm Kiefer Monumenta show in Paris.
2006-07 Visual arts writer for the Rake magazine, Minneapolis.
2007. Visual arts writer for Metro Magazine, Minneapolis.
2004    Catalogue essayist for Mary Esch show, “Three Stories,” Franklin Art Works.
2000-present  Many articles for the website: reviews, features, editorials.


2007-2008 Staff arts reporter for the Duluth News Tribune, circ. 100,000. I won the Best Short Feature Award from the Society of Professional Journalists during this time.
2002-07  Editor for news and features,, a McKnight-funded website/database for artists in Minnesota housed at Walker Art Center.

Lectures, Teaching, Curation

2005-09 Several talks at Franconia Sculpture Park for their 3-D Saturday Nights series (critics lead discussion of presenting artists’ work).
2005-09 Several lectures at Minneapolis Institute of Art in the Trialogue series: critic leads discussions of the work of artists in the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program.
2007   Several presentations to groups of artists and writers: for Duluth Art Institute, for University of Minnesota-Duluth, for Solutions Group in Minneapolis.
2006 Spoke at a show of botanical art at the Weisman Museum in Minneapolis.
2003 Curated "The Secret Life of Fluxus," a show of event scores at the Tweed Museum at University of Minnesota-Duluth. This accompanied a retrospective of Dick Higgins’ works curated by Hannah Higgins.


1982-84  Graduate school at the University of Minnesota--Minneapolis. I took courses in critical theory and aesthetics, and held a graduate assistantship, helping to start a new course in critical theory for undergraduates.
1974-78  BA, St. Olaf College, Paracollege. Triple major: Fine arts (sculpture), English, philosophy.