Christopher Lutter-Gardella

Minneapolis, MN

Download Resume (Word doc)

Organizational Position

Founder, artistic director and general manager of Puppet Farm Arts, a small 501c3 non-profit arts education organization, since 2001. Founder and director of Big Animal Productions LLC.

Awards and Grants

  • McKnight/ Forecast Professional Development Grantee
  • McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship, 2012
  • Artist Initiative Grant, Minnesota State Arts Board, 2009
  • Sustainable Practices Fellow, Public Art St. Paul, 2008
  • Bush Artist Fellow, Bush Foundation, 2006


  • Teaching Artist, Minnesota State Arts Board, on-going, since 2006
  • COMPAS WAITS and Young Audiences Artist, on-going, since 2006


  • BA English Literature, Minor Art
    Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin

Artistic Commission Work (selection)

(Updates forthcoming)

Turtle Temple · Roosevelt High School, Minneapolis · August 2017

Designer and Builder—Urban planter/arbor and gathering place for students, staff and neighbors.

Keke-The Mammoth · Artistic Collaboration · May 2017

Designer and Builder—with Alison Heimstead. 2-person puppet and climate-change awareness tool.

Pedal-powered Carousel · Juxtaposition Arts, Minneapolis
July 2016

Designer and Builder— in collaboration with Brandon Brown/Onyx Cycles. Artistic, interactive, community-engagement tool for play and fitness.

Wolf and Moose · City of Minneapolis / Northern Lights
June – October 2016

Designer and Lead Artist—guiding a team of 9 artists and Juxtaposition Arts apprentices. Creative City Challenge winner. A 4-month, interactive, public art installation on the Minneapolis Convention Center plaza. Spectacle sculptures of a wolf and a moose.

Reboot Fermentation Fest · WormFarm Institute, Reedsburg, WI · October 2015

Designer and Builder—Spectacle-scale kinetic boot sculpture, which can moon-walk across a field.

White Tiger/ Tick-Tock Croc · Circus Juventas, St. Paul · June 2015/2014

Designer, Builder and Coach. Large-scale white tiger puppet, which can be ridden by performer, for 1001 Nights. 30-foot crocodile marionette, capable of swallowing Hook whole, for Neverland.

Sister Dignity · Chicago SEIU / Fight for 15 · April 2015

Designer and Community Artist. 16-foot-tall mobile service worker’s strike statue.

The Devil Inferno · James Sewell Ballet, Minneapolis · April – July 2013

Designer, Builder and Coach. Spectacle-scale, danced-and-puppetted devil mask for ballet Inferno.

Shrek Dragon · Shrek the Musical / Home-Base Theater · Maple Grove, MN · April – July 2013

Designer and Production Lead, in collaboration with artistic team. 30-foot-long, 5-person puppet as well as all set and scenic pieces.

Water-Wheel Play Table · Seward Childcare Center, Minneapolis · June – September 2012

Designer and Builder—in collaboration with Ryan Billig. Kinetic water-play area for Seward Childcare Center, as an integrated element of a storm-water run-off irrigation system.

Big Boots · FermentationFest / WormFarm Institute · Reedsburg, WI · October 2011-12

Designer and Lead Builder—in collaboration with community volunteers. Sculptural installation/puppet of spectacle-scale work-boots, as a part of a tour of art-on-the landscape. Work was featured on NEA website and in Public Art Review.

PASPider/mobile community-arts lab · Public Art Saint Paul · St Paul, MN · March – July 2009

Designer and Builder– in association with fabrication team. Mobile community engagement tool which is at once, a readily deployable community arts lab / mechanical spider marionette.

Community and Educational Project Management Experience (selection)

Designer and Presenter · The Silk Road—Symphony Ball · Minnesota Orchestra, Minneapolis · June 24 2017

Presented a life-sized elephant puppet (Genie) and a larger-than-life tiger puppet (Carlos) at the MN Orchestra’s annual Symphony Ball/ The Silk Road.

Technical Theater Consultant · MonkeyBear’s Harmolodic Workshop · Minneapolis · May-June 2017

Consulted members of the MBHW’s POC cohort, in technical and artistic development.

Program Designer and Teaching Artist · Benton Stearns Voyaguers Program · Sauk Rapids, MN · March 2017

Designed and presented arts education programming for special needs middle and high school youth, in an alternative school setting.

Project Designer and Trainer · Native American Community Development Institute · Minneapolis · March – April 2017

Designed mask templates, for the production of clan animal masks, in a community workshop, culminating in a parade of clan animals for the kick-off of Indian Awareness Month (May).

Project Designer and Teacher · Ebenezer Care Center / Park Apartments · Minneapolis · October 9 – December 11 2014

Designed and implemented an 8-session puppet-making workshop for low-income senior residents. Program administered by COMPAS Art’s Artful Aging program.

Community Artist/ Project and Puppet Designer · Burnett Co Historical Society · Burnett Co. WI · August 15 – September 20 2014

Designed and presented a community-arts workshop, in celebration of the 100 anniversary of the hunt for the World Record White-tail deer: the Jordan Buck. Designed and led the build of larger-than-life deer puppet, composed a commemorative ballad and presented at sites.

Teaching Artist / Project Designer · COMPAS Arts/ Harambee Elementary · Maplewood, MN · March 10—28 2014

Designed and implemented a 3-week-long school arts residency, producing hundreds of butterfly puppets, including a hanging mobile installation of a flock of 100+ large-scale monarchs.

Program Designer and Teacher · VSA Minnesota and Epic Enterprise Inc. · Minneapolis and Dundas, MN · May—June 2012

Designed and implemented a 5-week-long puppetry arts residency for VSA and Epic, serving people with severe developmental disabilities and mental illness. I also trained trainers.

Program Designer and Manager · Dragons Are Singing All-School Residencies · Green Central Elementary & Northport Elementary · February – April 2012

Designed and managed the implementation of all hands-on projects comprising a school-wide puppetry and mask-making residency. At Green Central: 440 students, 27 teachers and 6 artistic staff were involved. A comparable number participated at Northport.

Program Designer and Teacher · Sunrise Elementary School, Appleton, WI · February 2011

Worked with students, teachers, administrators and others to create and implement a three-week, school-wide puppetry arts residency program. Students received hands-on experience creating art and organizing a grand celebration for the entire school community.

Designer/Director—Public Demonstration · Backbone Campaign/United Workers · Baltimore, MD · March 2010

Consulted with and directed a consortium of low-wage workers to develop and perform four mass-participation plays, each addressing a specific social justice issue. Plays received positive press, raising awareness and support for their cause.

Consultant / Workshop Director · Sonoran Desert Alliance, Ajo, AZ · February 2006 – September 2009

Assisted in the development of long-term strategic goals and plans for community-arts programs and cross-border peace initiatives. Designed and conducted community workshops and facilitated discussions with multi-cultural groups to organize an International Day of Peace event for the region. Engaged Native American women in developing leadership skills through arts programming.

Artistic Director/ Program Consultant · Phipps Center for the Arts · Hudson, WI · March – July 2008

Oversaw all artistic details of the center’s 25th anniversary celebration– Celebrating the Creative Spirit conducting 20 off-site workshops for more than 300 participants. The event engaged residents in making art and reinforced the value of the arts community in the region.

Workshop Director · Black Hills Community Theater · Rapid City, SD · March 2008

Collaborated with a cross-section of community members and persons with disabilities from the Suzy Cappa Center to design and construct wheelchair–based masks and puppets for the play Flutter.

Staff Artist · May Day Parade and Festival · In the Heart of the Beast, Minneapolis · 1999—2006

Collaborated with a team of artists to design and present parade and ceremonial art for the celebration of the annual May Day Parade and Festival.