Learn about Art of the Rural’s past programming, from 2010 to present

A screenshot of the original Art of the Rural blog.


Art of the Rural begins as a blog, sharing stories and interviews about rural art & culture.

Art of the Rural Blog

“The Art Of The Rural” blog was established in January 2010 on the Blogger platform. The blog published posts including critiques, roundups, and interviews regarding rural arts and culture across the United States and beyond. This was the main home for Art of the Rural until 2013 when the organization’s work was re-established at artoftherural.org.

M12 Studio, The Big Feed. Various locations. Social action and performance, 2007-2014 (2012).


As the Art of the Rural blog gathers a wider audience, we join national conversations and begin to build partnerships.

American Folklife Society "Arts and Sustainability" Working Group

Art of the Rural was invited to join in a weekend-long series of multidisciplinary discussions at the Meadowcreek Institute in May (Fox, AR) on public folklore and its intersection with cultural and ecological sustainability.

January 2011
Art of the Rural Review
Journal of American Folklore
August 2011
‘Where Are We Going to Get Together and Talk?’
NPR Blog of the Nation
June 2011
Rural Arts and Culture Roundtable
Bush Foundation, St. Paul, MN
July 2011
Important Places, Important Times: Claiming a Rural Modernism
Rural Sociology Society Annual Meeting, Boise, ID
October 2011
The Big Feed
Yuma, CO, with M12 and the University of Colorado-Boulder

The 2012 Rural Arts and Culture Working Group convening at Double Edge Theater. Photo Credit: Shawn Poynter.


With momentum building online and across the country, Art of the Rural collaborates towards field-expanding gatherings and digital projects.

Rural Arts and Culture Map

The map was published through the Art of the Rural blog in October.

Rural Arts & Culture Working Group

We helped to form a diverse group of artists, practitioners, and advocates that recently gathered for inaugural meetings at Double Edge Theatre in August (Ashfield, MA). Our time together was made possible by Americans for the Arts, Arts and Democracy, The Bush Foundation, The Center for Rural Strategies, Greenfield Community College, The National Endowment of the Arts, and The New England Foundation for the Arts.

March 2012
That Perpetual Parish: Paul Muldoon and Rural Modernism
American Conference for Irish Studies, New Orleans, LA
April 2012
Re-Thinking the Rural Arts
Rustbelt to the Artist Belt conference, St. Louis, MO
August 2012
The State of the Rural Arts, A Conversation Hosted at the Double Edge Theatre
Ashfield, MA, with HowlRound TV

After the Rural Arts and Culture Summit, in Morris, Minnesota. Photo Credit: Michele Anderson.


As the new online home for Art of the Rural launches, we deepen our collaborative networks towards storytelling and relationship across the national field.

Documentation, Archiving and Communication in the Field of Community Cultural Development

We joined 30 invited participants from across this field of work at the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA) in December. We initiated broader conversation on the intersections of digital work, archival practice, and community engagement.  

Art of the Rural Website

Art of the Rural launches its new website at artoftherural.org in October.

June 2013
Americans for the Arts Annual Conference presentation
Pittsburgh, PA
June 2013
Questioning the Rural Arts
The Rural Arts and Culture Summit University of Minnesota-Morris, Morris, MN
August 2013
Interventions in Rural Space
Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL
October 2013
Matthew Fluharty on Ways of Being Panel
Hand in Glove Conference, New Orleans, LA

The first year of Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange gatherings, held in Whitesburg and Louisville. Photo Credit: Savannah Barrett.


The Rural-Urban Exchange debuts in Kentucky, connecting rural and urban Kentuckians from across the state. The Year of the Rural Arts programming brings together different disciplines, sectors, and generations across the country. Art of the Rural becomes a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange (KY RUX) was founded by Savannah Barrett (Art of the Rural) and Josh May (Appalshop). With 36 Kentuckians from Whitesburg and Louisville, Community Intensives were held in Whitesburg (May) and Louisville (September).

Year of the Rural Arts

This interdisciplinary, cross-sector, and intergenerational effort brought into conversation a diverse gathering of voices to articulate, and to better understand, rural America's artistic and cultural resources and its connections to urban and international audiences. The program integrated national, regional, and local events to enlarge discourse across fields and locales, and strategically identified rural arts and culture stakeholders in each state and documented their presence on the Rural Arts and Culture Map. This includes 5 Year of the Rural Arts Residencies with rural communities around the nation, and 140 events mapped for the Year of the Rural Arts Calendar of Events.

Rural Arts and Humanities Working Group meeting

We joined a group of artists, scholars, and Cooperative Extension leaders in June at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) to plan and strategize toward the creation of a national effort to align collaborators across disciplines and sectors. 

Transforming Landscape: Challenging Rural-Urban Boundaries

We led a workshop and conversation at the Big Event at the St. Louis Art Museum in April, with a diverse range of educators on landscape as a potential lens for critical engagement across culture, history, and aesthetics. Participants considered an exhibition of French Impressionist paintings alongside the work of Kara Walker. 

The Coleman Center Annual Juried Show

We juried this regional show in York, AL, in March, and participated in dialogue with artists and community members.

March 2014
Online Rural Arts Project Expands Work
The Daily Yonder
March 2014
Agriculture, The Arts, and An Interview with Savannah Barrett
Imagining America podcast
February 2014
Extension Reconsidered Initiative convening
Kettering Foundation, Dayton, OH
March 2014
Agriculture, The Arts, and An Interview with Savannah Barrett
Imagining America podcast
March 2014
Matthew Fluharty & Savannah Barrett Present Year of the Rural Arts
Rural Arts Happy Hour, virtual
March 2014
Rural Innovation in Arts, Culture, and Heritage
Rural Economic Development Forum, McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis, MN 
September 2014
The Rural-Urban Continuum
Central Time Centric: Art and Social Practice in the Midwest, Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND
October 2014
The Art of the Rural: Creating Thriving Places, Beyond the City
Fermentation Fest, Reedsburg, WI
December 2014
Creative Placemaking: Connecting Arts, Culture and Community
Sustaining Ohio’s Art and Cultural Ecosystem conference, Columbus, OH 

The American Bottom field school at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Photo Credit: Matthew Fluharty.


As the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange expands, Art of the Rural joins national conversations on rural creative placemaking, arts, and culture. The organization moves upriver from St. Louis to Winona, Minnesota, a town located along the Mississippi in Dakota homelands.

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

With 75 Kentuckians from 16 counties, KY RUX hosted Community Intensives in Whitesburg (June), Louisville (August), and Paducah (October). KY RUX launched its Steering Committee, received a partnership grant from the Kentucky Arts Council, partnered with Maiden Alley Cinema to begin an exchange in Paducah, and hosted the 8th of August block party in Louisville. RUX was featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine, the CommunityMatters webinar, the Community Development Society Conference, and the RAC Summit.

American Bottom Project 

This collaborative work focused on the Mississippi River receives a Divided/City grant from the Mellon Foundation, is featured in an exhibition co-curated by Matthew Fluharty at Central Features gallery in Albuquerque, NM, and launched an interactive website of landscape and community connections in the St. Louis rural-urban region. Art of the Rural collaborates with the Institute of Marking and Measuring on river-based field schools and place-based events. 

Extension Reconsidered (Imagining America Partnership)

This program was organized by Matt Fluharty and Savannah Barrett and hosted by the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, OH.

National Rural Assembly Next Generation

This pre-conversation and post-conference program on rural Creative Placemaking was hosted by Matt Fluharty and Savannah Barrett in September in Washington, DC. We received our first National Endowment for the Arts OurTown grant for this work and formed Working Groups for Regional Networks, presented plenary presentations at National Rural Assembly and RAC Summit, and worked with VISTA.

Water-Food-Energy-Climate Nexus: An Emerging Challenge for Rural Policy

Art of the Rural was an organizational host of this May summit in conjunction with OECD - International OECD, with Chuck Fluharty, Teresa Kittridge, and Savannah Barrett, in Memphis, TN. 

Navigating the River: Landscape, Culture, and Creativity

This workshop and conversation was held in April during The Big Event, at the St. Louis Art Museum. A diverse range of educators reflected on the river paintings of George Caleb Bingham and their potential to illuminate contemporary cultural and economic conditions along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Participants also compared the work of Thomas Cole and discussed concepts of “middle landscape.”

February 2015
Surveying the American Bottom
Bill Gilbert’s “Art and Ecology” course, Department of Art and Art History, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
February 2015
Matthew Fluharty, “RE: Art of the Rural” public talk
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
March 2015
Jesse Howard and the Rural Aesthetic
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
April 2015
Matthew Fluharty, “God Made Flyover States: Writing the Rural Midwest” panelist
Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference, Minneapolis, MN
December 2015
Matthew Fluharty, Changing the Face of the Rural

Attendees of the 2016 Rural Generation Summit in Iowa City, IA.


Art of the Rural, in partnership with the Rural Policy Research Institute, hosts Next Generation – a summit focused on support for rural arts and culture and the creation of regional networks to cultivate storytelling, research, and skill sharing. The gathering’s cultural, sectoral, and generational diversity sets a standard for future gatherings in the field. Also emerging from these values and commitments, we open Public Launch, a cross-sector, collaborative community space in Winona.

Next Generation Rural Creative Placemaking Summit

This convening gathered 300 people from 38 states to consider our greatest opportunities for rural creative placemaking in October at the University of Iowa. The convening resulted in significant national policy impacts such as the Delta Regional Authority's Delta Creative Placemaking Initiative.

Additional programming included the organization of the Next Generation Digital Learning Commons, a platform for storytelling, research, and best practices fostering an inclusive space for learning exchange through the release of case studies, policy briefs, publications, videos and podcasts. The Next Generation Regional Innovation Networks coordinated three cohorts to facilitate regional strategies for rural advancement: a Regional Network Working Group (that advances support for Networks while informing policy and practice across the region), Collaborative Projects (designed to enhance cross-sector networks and articulate a common mission for their region), and Regional Convenings (to facilitate the convergence of these cross-sector networks).

Regional networks were formed, including the Iowa Next Generation Regional Network (directed by Chuck Fluharty and Savannah Barrett), the Kentucky Next Generation Regional Network (directed by Chuck Fluharty and Savannah Barrett, and the Minnesota Next Generation Regional Network (directed by Matthew Fluharty and Teresa Kittridge).

NEA/RUPRI Rural Cultural Wealth Lab

The RUPRI Rural Cultural Wealth Lab was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts as a research lab to explore the intersection of rural arts and culture, entrepreneurship, and the role of cultural wealth in the broader comprehensive wealth framework.

Public Launch Collaborative Space

Directed by Matt Fluharty in Winona, MN, 2016-2020

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

In its second year with 75 Kentuckians from 16 counties and 20 locally-owned businesses, KY RUX hosted Community Intensives in Paducah (July), Harlan (August), and Lexington (September). KY RUX also hosted a Fall Fundraiser Fair (November).

January 2016
Breaking Down Rural-Urban Barriers
The Daily Yonder
March 2016
Telling their story: Folklorists to gather at the UO
University of Oregon AroundtheO
May 2016 
I Think, Therefore I LISTEN: Savannah Barrett Profile Feature
University of Louisville News
October 2016
Can The Arts Help Save Rural America?
Huffington Post
August 2016
Matthew Fluharty, “Social Movements/Imagination” panelist
Art and Survival, Double Edge Theatre, Ashfield, MA
September 2016
Savannah Barrett, “New Ideas for a World in Transition: A Next Generation of Work” panelist
Gard Foundation Symposium–Our Communities, Racine, WI
September 2016
Savannah Barrett, “Arts & Culture: Going Forward” panelist
Rural Talks to Rural Conference, Huron County, Canada
October 2016
Savannah Barrett, “Rural-Urban Exchange” panelist 
Grantmakers in the Arts National Conference, St. Paul, MN
Other Appearances
National Association of Counties annual meeting, Common Field National Gathering, Association of Western States Folklorists meeting, Wormfarm Institute Fermentation Festival

The KY RUX 2017 cohort in Lexington.


In the wake of the 2016 elections, Art of the Rural is increasingly called upon to provide context, connection, and perspective on the dynamics of arts, cultural, and community work across the rural-urban landscape. Both Next Generation and the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange continue their work, while also providing models for learning and collaboration across perceived divides.

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

In its third year with 75 Kentuckians from 27 counties, KY RUX held Community Intensives in 5 communities in collaboration with more than 60 state partners. Locations includes Lexington (June), Bowling Green (July), and Harlan County (September). KY RUX also hosted the ArtPlace America Minnesota-Kentucky Learning Exchange. Organized by Savannah Barrett, KY RUX hosted a cohort including ArtPlace America staff, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership staff, and a Rural LISC program officer in a four-community learning exchange across Western Kentucky.

Next Generation Digital Exchange Series

With Matthew Fluharty and Savannah Barrett, nine webinars explored rural creative placemaking best practices. They featured 36 panelists from 20 states. 25% of panelists were POCI and 20% were young leaders.

Public Launch Collaborative Space

Directed by Matthew Fluharty in Winona, MN, hosted 4 exhibitions (including Jon Swanson: Winona Characters, The Department of Public Transformation group exhibit, and Sharon Mansur: Dreaming Under the Cedar Tree), 27 public events, 11 community meals, 7 concerts, and 271 days of programming.

April 2017
Matthew Fluharty, “Walking the Rural-Urban Field,” panelist
Open Engagement conference, University of Illinois at Chicago
May 2017
Matthew Fluharty, “View from the Field: Rural Arts & Culture in 2017,” panelist
National Council on Foundations convening, Dallas, TX
October 2017
Matthew Fluharty, keynote speaker
Indiana Arts Homecoming convening, Indianapolis, IN
November 2017
Savannah Barrett, keynote speaker
Wisconsin Creative Summit, Stevens Point, WI
November 2017
Savannah Barrett, keynote speaker
Wyoming Arts Council 50th Summit, Lander, AY
July 2017
Delta Creative Placemaking Initiative Webinars
Delta Regional Authority, virtual

Gathering at Public Launch for Sharon Mansur's Dreaming Under A Cedar Tree installation, performance, and community meal. Photo Credit: Sydney Swanson.


As increasing attention is directed toward non-urban communities and cultures by the media, philanthropy, and national support structures, Art of the Rural advocates for the essential presence of local and regional artists and culture bearers. We planned a second national summit promoting cross-sector knowledge sharing, relationship building, and collaboration, while continuing arts & culture work in our regions. Our national, regional, and local work deepens and informs each other, as we advocate for greater equity, representation, and visibility for the non-urban field.

Rural Generation

Directed by Savannah Barrett and Matt Fluharty nationally, this initiative was supported by ArtPlace America and a National Endowment for the Arts Knowledge Building grant.

We restructured the “Next Generation: Rural Creative Placemaking” partnership with RUPRI to form a national coalition branded as Rural Generation. Rural Generation includes Art of the Rural, ArtPlace America, the Center for Rural Strategies, First Peoples Fund, the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, the National Consortium of Creative Placemaking, the Rural Policy Research Institute, and Springboard for the Arts.

We recruited a 30-member national working group to build the field and promote knowledge exchange across sectors, and launched a field scan survey and interview process that guided the convening design.

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

In its fourth year with 75 Kentuckians from 29 counties in three Community Intensives in 4 communities in collaboration with more than 60 state partners. Intensives were hosted in Bowling Green (June), Knott County (August), and Covington (October). We accomplished the goal of hosting RUX in every Kentucky region within five years of the program’s launch.

KY RUX also hosted a Cultural Organizing Workshop (October) with Kentucky Foundation for Women, Covington RUX Host Committee, the Carnegie Center for the Arts, and Eastside neighbors.

Public Launch Collaborative Space

Directed by Matt Fluharty, Public Launch hosted 32 public events in Winona, MN, including the exhibitions ​Mike Munson: Winona Anthems​, Sarah Johnson: Found_and_Lost​, ​Project Fine: Hearing the Voices​, ​In This Place​, ​Fadi BouKaram: Lebanon USA​, ​Nathan Bauman: Reflections of Light and Living​, and Mai’a Williams: Bodies of the Desert.

Towards a Local Practice

Matthew Fluharty collaborated with Mn Artists and the Walker Art Center to curate a series of essays on contemporary rural art practice.

The Kentucky Food + Art + Health Convening

This convening was co-hosted by Savannah Barrett with Owensboro Health and Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation as a one-day statewide convening in March in Owensboro, KY. It included more than 100 attendees and featured Kentucky presenters who are working at the intersection of arts, food, and health.

McKnight Foundation Learning Exchange

This exchange was organized by Savannah Barrett to host a cohort including the McKnight Foundation and Jerome Foundation staff to explore the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange framework over a three-day regional tour of RUX partners in rural Appalachia. This initiative was organized as a follow up to the Next Generation Working Group convening hosted in Eastern Kentucky in 2016.

RUPRI Rural Cultural Wealth Lab

Matt Fluharty and Savannah Barrett assisted in the development of the Cultural Wealth Lab, served on the research team, and organized a national Digital Exchange Webinar.

June 2018
Matthew Fluharty Presents Mississippi: An Anthropocene River
Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s Anthropocene Curriculum, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN
October 2018
Matthew Fluharty, Rural Funders’ Breakfast conversation
Heartland Summit, Bentonville, AR

Ron Ragin singing at Rural Generation 2019. Photo Credit: Nik Nerburn.


The local imperatives of equity and intercultural exchange guide our second national summit on rural arts & cultural work. These values animate our other efforts, as the Rural-Urban Exchange expands the depth of its relationships across the state of Kentucky, and The American Bottom Project hosts an international river-based gathering and begins publishing the The American Bottom Gazette.

Rural Generation

Directed by Savannah Barrett and Matt Fluharty nationally. Along with our working group and coalition of national partners, we hosted the Rural Generation Summit in May in Jackson, Indianola, and Utica, MS.

The Summit was attended by 250 people from 44 states and two territories. Together, we traveled 290 miles by bus to visit three communities, gathered in nine spaces and shared five meals, heard from thirty six speakers and facilitators, and organized in fourteen home rooms. This Summit was supported by ArtPlace America, McKnight Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

In its fifth year with 75 Kentuckians, KY RUX held community intensives in Muhlenberg County (May), Covington (June), and Knott County (September).

Minnesota Rural-Urban Exchange

Art of the Rural was awarded a grant from the McKnight Foundation to develop a Rural-Urban Exchange in Minnesota. 

Public Launch Winona

Art of the Rural expanded this collaborative space in partnership with the Engage Winona community engagement organization. Exhibitions, among many community events and meals, included LGBTQ Voices, Edward Hoffman: La Gomera, Lyon Smith: Driftless Sanctuary, Sequoia Fassbender: YAYA.

The American Bottom Project

Directed by Matt Fluharty, Jesse Vogler, and Jennifer Colten. In 2019, this collaborative team of over a dozen individuals from across various fields created two issues of the free American Bottom Gazette regional newspaper and convened the international Anthropocene River project sponsored by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in the St. Louis region.

June 2019
A rural renaissance: How small towns are leading the way in creative placemaking
Creative Exchange
June 2019
Three Days in the Delta with Rural Generation
ArtPlace America blog
June 2019
Rural Abundance and Prosperity through the Arts
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Newsletter
June 2019
A Piece of Mississippi: Retrospective on Rural Generation for CIRD
Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Blog
July 2019
Exchange Programs Think Beyond Urban vs. Rural
July 2019
How These Exchange Programs Are Bridging The Two Americas
Huffington Post
October 2019
Anthropocene Vernacular Event Series Feature
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
March 2019
“Rural Creative Community Development” panelists
National Association of Counties conference
March 2019
Matthew Fluharty and Jennifer Colten, Anthropocene Curriculum Midway Meeting
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville, IL, with Haus der Kulturen der Welt
April 2019
Exchange Director Savannah Barrett Featured Speaker at Arts Summit 2019
The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
April 2019
Savannah Barrett, featured speaker
Kentucky Main Street Association Conference, Covington, KY
May 2019
Matthew Fluharty, “Communities, Culture, and Place” keynote  
Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR
October 2019
Savannah Barrett Firestarter
Rural Women’s Summit, Rural Assembly, Greenville, SC
December 2019
New Developments in Rural Arts & Culture
American Academy of Arts & Sciences, virtual

Gathering on Zoom for KY RUX's "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" online program.


As we shifted our programming online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Art of the Rural collaborated with Plains Art Museum on a narrative-shifting exhibition of art and intercultural collaborations across rural and Indian Country. Meanwhile, we utilize online efforts to cultivate collaboration, community care, and spaces for solidarity.

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

KY RUX delayed Community Intensives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They cohosted the Kentucky Arts + Health Convening (March), and held several virtual events including “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (April) with Lindsey Ofcacek (The LEE Initiative Restaurant Worker Relief Program), Alison Huff (Elevator Artist Resource and the Artist Relief Trust); Ashley Bledsoe (With Love from Harlan), and Ashley C. Smith (Black Soil: Our Better Nature). Other virtual events include the KPA at Home series (June), Case Studies Release Party (August), RUX Virtual Story Share (September), and West KY Women of the World (September).

Ongoing initiatives include Kentuckians Stand Together, the Rural-Urban Solidarity Project, and Signal Boost, which was designed to spread the good news of Kentucky projects, initiatives, and efforts that are offering resources, inspiration, and connection in the midst of the public health crisis. KY RUX published the Living with Complexity Case Studies and the Rural-Urban Exchange Handbook. Support continued for MN RUX.

Minnesota Rural-Urban Exchange

The KY RUX Expansion Team shared their resources, knowledge and experience and engaged in small Learning Pods to walk through their curriculum and learning tools.

High Visibility

The exhibition opened in November on view at the Plains Art Museum (Fargo, ND).

Public Launch Winona

Public Launch hosted 25 public events including 4 exhibitions from artists on subjects related to the living everyday culture of the Winona, MN, region.

December 2020
Kiwi in Kentucky
Kentucky Folklife Magazine
March 2020
Matthew Fluharty, “The Poetry of Rural Place” panelist with the United States Poet Laureate
National Endowment for the Arts
May 2020
Matthew Fluharty, “The Great Empty” keynote
Beaux Arts convocation, North Dakota State University, virtual
August 2020
Savannah Barrett, presenter
Lift Up Louisville, virtual
September 2020
Savannah Barrett, Unscripted
Actors Theatre of Louisville, virtual
September 2020
Savannah Barrett, “Equity in Cultural Philanthropy” organizer & moderator
Radically Rural Conference, virtual
October 2020
Savannah Barrett & Matthew Fluharty, Virtual Happy Hour hosts
ArtPlace Summit, virtual
October 2020
Savannah Barrett, “Activating the Cultural Power of a Movement” webinar
Arts & Democracy, virtual
October 2020
Matthew Fluharty, “Naming & Claiming Our Rural–Urban Futures” keynote
Indiana University Bloomington Center for Rural Engagement annual conference, Bloomington, IN
October 2020
Matthew Fluharty, “New Middles: Arts and Community” panelist
Exhibit Columbus, virtual
Other Appearances
Interfaith Paths to Peace

Xavier Tavera, Quinceañera, 2017, as included in the High Visibility exhibition.


As communities emerge from the first phase of the pandemic, we collaborate with artists and organizations to understand the changed cultural, social, and creative conditions of the moment. The High Visibility exhibition continues, reaching regional and national audiences, while knowledge sharing continues between the Kentucky and the Minnesota Rural-Urban Exchanges. Public Launch evolves into the Spillway initiative, with initial local efforts supporting intercultural exchange and storytelling.

High Visibility: On Location in Rural America and Indian Country

The exhibition continued on view at the Plains Art Museum (Fargo, ND) through May. The launch of the podcast series included conversations with Raven Chacon, Sharon Mansur, Jovan C. Speller, and Karl Unnasch.

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to delay in-person community gatherings but KY RUX work continued online. They held a series of virtual events, including RUX Kentucky Derby performances (April) and a RUX Network Game Night (May). Other gatherings included an 8th of August celebration at Hotel Metropolitan (Paducah) and regional RUX alumni gatherings (November). KY RUX continued support for MN RUX through learning exchanges and technical assistance. Work continued on the Rural-Urban Solidarity project short films.

Minnesota Rural-Urban Exchange

The MN RUX Steering Committee met for the first time in person for a Planning Retreat in Waseca, MN.


In collaboration with Engage Winona, the local Spillway publishing platform launches, welcoming artists, culture bearers, and storytellers to share the history, experiences, and visions for the future that animate communities in the Winona, MN, region.

We support the local presentation and online engagement of 1001 Arab Futures, a multidisciplinary exhibition and performance that contemplates imaginative visions, past reckonings, embodied truths, and other future potentials from the Arab diaspora. This work was co-created by Yara Boustany, Mette Loulou von Kohl, and Andrea Shaker, with concept/collaborative contributions/performance by Sharon Mansur.

March 2021
Savannah Barrett, presenter
Kentucky Democratic Rural Caucus
March 2021
Savannah Barrett, Kentucky Folklife Network panelist
Kentucky Folklife Network Meeting, virtual
July 2021
Matthew Fluharty, American Rescue Plan Funding in Rural America and Indian Country, workshop organizer
National Endowment for the Arts, virtual
July 2021
Matthew Fluharty, “Whatever You Say, Say Nothing” keynote
Rural Environments Field School, Pratt, Kansas
Other Appearances
Builders Initiative, Alternate ROOTS

MK Nguyen, Melvin Giles, and Kathy Mouacheupao lead conversation at the MN RUX St. Paul weekend.


Intercultural collaboration deepens with artists, culture bearers, and community organizations. We launch the Minnesota Rural-Urban Exchange with a cohort from across the rural, urban, and Native Nations in the region, with community weekends in St. Paul and Mahnomen/White Earth Nation. In Kentucky, RUX expands networks and supports community projects, while, in Winona, the Spillway storytelling platform highlights individuals leading community change. We continued collaborating with artists from throughout rural America and Indian Country.

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

In its eighth year, with 75 Kentuckians from 22 counties, KY RUX held three Community Intensives in Muhlenberg County (May), Louisville (August), and Estill County (September). KY RUX also held two webinars in conjunction with MN RUX. Work continued on the Rural-Urban Solidarity Project short films.

Minnesota Rural-Urban Exchange

In its first year, MN RUX brought together 10 Minnesotans from 8 counties. The first Community Intensives were held in St. Paul (August) and Mahnomen/White Earth Nation (October). 


Art of the Rural begins Spillway Fellowships and collaborations with individuals and organizations including Faye Dant, The Huck Finn Freedom Center, Jen Colten, Native Womens Care Circle, and many others. The Spillway Winona publishing platform welcomed artists, culture bearers, and storytellers to share the history, experiences, and visions for the future that animate communities in the Winona, MN, region.

High Visibility

Podcast episodes reflecting on the exhibition were published, including “Photography and Community: Xavier Tavera” (July) and The Long Conversation: Dyani White Hawk and Jovan C. Speller (June).

March 2022
Savannah Barrett, presenter
Kentucky Library Association Conference, Lexington, KY
June 2022
Savannah Barrett, Exploring the Currency of Connection with the Rural-Urban Exchange
RuralX Knowledge Camp, virtual & Vermillion, SD
September 2022
Matthew Fluharty, “In Conversation with Richard Saxton”
Advancing Arts and Culture in Rural Communities, Western Arts Advocacy Network, & Western States Art Federation
Other Appearances
Builders Initiative

The KY RUX 2023 cohort in Louisville. Photo Credit: M. Tyler McDaniel.


Art of the Rural deeply leans into stewarding local and regional collaborations that extend across the lines of culture, discipline, and geography. We kicked off the tenth year of the acclaimed bridge-building work of the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange and introduced the second-year cohort of the Minnesota Rural-Urban Exchange. Spillway launched Fellowships with artists, culture bearers, and local organizations along the Mississippi River.

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

In its ninth year, with 55 Kentuckians from 22 counties, KY RUX held three Community Intensives in Louisville (June), Owensboro (July), and Estill County (September). KY RUX also launched an Intercultural Microgrant Program, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Other events include Kentucky River Cultures & Ecology (virtual panel) and the Rural-Urban Solidarity Project short film premieres in Paducah, Covington, Harlan County, and virtually. In November, RUX kicked off its tenth year with The Golden Thread: 10 Years of Rural-Urban Exchange gala in Louisville.

Minnesota Rural-Urban Exchange

MN RUX’s second year brought together 24 Minnesotans from 15 counties. Community Intensives were held in Mahnomen County & White Earth Nation (June) and Winona County (July). MN RUX also hosted a monthly Coffee & Connection virtual gathering for networking.


We welcomed fellowships with Joseph J. Allen, Honoring Dakota Project, and Saundi Kloeckener, alongside organizations such as Historical Society of Brooklyn (Illinois), Manoomin Arts Initiative, Winona County Historical Society, and the Crossings Field School in St. Louis and the East St. Louis region. Art of the Rural supported a region-wide conversation and meal on the history and presence of Freedom Villages in the fall. 

June 2023
Exchange Director Savannah Barrett Featured Speaker
Owensboro Leadership Summit, Owensboro, KY
September 2023
Matthew Fluharty Artist Talk
Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
September 2023
Exchange Director Savannah Barrett at Civic Imagination and Worldbuilding Summit
Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY
September 2023
Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange Steering Committee Hosts Panel for Marshall Memorial Fellows
The German Marshall Fund of the United States, Washington, DC
October 2023
Richard Saxton, Matthew Fluharty, and Margo Handwerker (M12 Studio) Present Rural Recharge: Patterns and Propositions Featured Keynote
Wyoming Arts Council’s 2023 Arts Summit, Sheridan, WY