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Dance, Drama, Literature, Music, Visual and Traditional Arts
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Musical instrument
Walter Piehl Painting
Visual Arts vase
Literary Arts pen
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Featured Artist Works Displayed in the Offices of the Governor

October, November, December 2012 - Terry Jelsing (Rugby)

Terry JelsingTerry Jelsing has worked professionally as an artist, teacher, curator, arts administrator and presenter for more than 30 years. A native North Dakotan, his work is spiritually tied to the prairie landscape, its history and its people. He works in a variety of media to create two- and three-dimensional works of art, including large public commissions. His work is part of public and private collections, both in the United States and abroad.

The former executive director of the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, in 2006 he relocated to Rugby and transformed the granary on his family’s original homestead into a art studio. A former adjunct art instructor at North Dakota University, he taught art for five years at Rugby High School, resigning in 2011 to focus more time on his own work. He continues to teach at Dakota College Bottineau and conducts private workshops.

This spring Jelsing was one of six artists selected by the North Dakota Museum of Art to create work exploring life among the Spirit Lake Nation of Dakota people at Fort Totten, N.D. The project is funded by a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artistic Innovation and Collaboration grant. Born December 10, 1954, in Rugby, North Dakota, Jelsing’s artistic abilities presented at an early age. By the time he graduated from Rugby High School he had several public commissions to his credit.

Before enrolling in the bachelor of fine arts program at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, he completed a three-year tour of duty with the military in Europe. He later returned to Europe on scholarship to study at the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, Austria, where he was strongly influenced by the German expressionists. He began his graduate studies in art history, sculpture and painting at the University of New Mexico in 1981, completing a master of art in 1983 and a master of fine arts in 1986. During that time he was part of the American post-modernist movement, experimenting with time-art studies and conceptual projects. His graduate exhibition, Circus for Matthew, received national media coverage and was published in Artspace magazine.

After graduate school, Jelsing designed for the stage throughout North Dakota; taught interdisciplinary studio arts and sculpture at the University of North Dakota; and served as director of Beall Park Arts Center in Bozeman, Montana, building an alliance between the community art center and Montana State University that continues to support new genre installations and performance art. In 1992, he was hired as curator by the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota. Later named executive director, he guided the museum’s transformation of an historic International Harvester branch house into an award-winning arts facility.

Throughout his career as an artist and arts administrator, Jelsing has served on numerous local, state, regional and national committees and commissions, including the U.S. State Department’s Friends of Art and Preservation of Embassies Millennium Committee, which produced the international art exhibit Gift of Art to the Nation.

To contact Terry, call (701) 776-7606, or e-mail him at

Terry Jelsing images
Short Stack
Witches Acrobats
"Short Stack "

"18 Witches Acrobats "

NDCA blue art footer with typed arts disciplines listed