Student and community writers, poets, photographers, and artists founded Aqueous Magazine as a way to give local artists an outlet for their work. It is the Lake Superior region’s only ad-free, literary magazine dedicated to publishing the literary, visual and performing art works of regional artists.

“The reason, and inspiration for starting Aqueous was simply the absence of such a thing in the area,” said co-founder Marissa Fish, who graduated from Northland College in 2015. “There are numerous places in the area to display visual arts, but there was a lack of such opportunity for writers—as the idea grew, we knew we wanted to include visual art as well any type of art we could put into printed form.”

Fish along with co-founders Nick Nelson, Sara Owen, and Kristen Sandstrom published their first issue in 2013.

Professor Tim Ziegenhagen, who calls himself supporter and lover of the magazine, said Aqueous came together as a collaboration of ideas, work, and dedication of students, faculty and the writing community of the Chequamegon Bay region.

“I consider the Aqueous project to be a beautiful expression of the symbiosis that can happen between a college and the community it is supposed to serve,” he said. “I’m proud of everyone who has thrown a shoulder behind it.”

Aqueous is a nonprofit, committed to funding production through donations.

At a fundraising event last fall, the magazine raised $6,000 in a single evening. Ziegenhagen said the event in and of itself was a “spectacular” model for community collaboration: space for the event provided by a local and sustainable business, high attendance from the local and Northland College community, as well as a new magazine filled with locally generated content.

Aqueous has been incredibly popular with his students, said Ziegenhagen, who teaches writing and literature.

In 2014, the Aqueous team began offering three-credit internships to Northland College writing majors as a way for the students to gain real life experience in the full production of a literary magazine. As an internship supervisor, Ziegenhagen believes this opportunity provides a constructive look into the entire production process from the selection of content, editing, composition, distribution and fundraising.

“The value of doing an internship with Aqueous Magazine is that students have insight into every aspect of magazine production,” Ziegenhagen said. “Our internship program has facilitated these students moving into Aqueous editorial positions. They find the experience that valuable.”

Following the successful completion of their internships, Northland College writing students Sean Devlin and Halee Kirkwood decided to take on leadership roles as coeditors of the magazine.

“In my time with Aqueous, I grew close to a small family who believe—without a doubt—that words and art have an invaluable impression on society as a whole,” said Devlin, who is now pursuing his masters of creative writing at the University of Limerick in Ireland. “Aqueous has offered many individuals the opportunity to rediscover the importance of reading, writing and creating art in their lives.”

Amber Mullen, a 2012 graduate of Northland College, is a freelance writer. She is the author of this article.

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