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.
“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.
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.
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.
The map was published through the Art of the Rural blog in October.
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.
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.
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 launches its new website at artoftherural.org in October.
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 (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).
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.
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.
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.
We juried this regional show in York, AL, in March, and participated in dialogue with artists and community members.
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.
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.
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.
This program was organized by Matt Fluharty and Savannah Barrett and hosted by the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, OH.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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).
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.
Directed by Matt Fluharty in Winona, MN, 2016-2020
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Matthew Fluharty collaborated with Mn Artists and the Walker Art Center to curate a series of essays on contemporary rural art practice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In its fifth year with 75 Kentuckians, KY RUX held community intensives in Muhlenberg County (May), Covington (June), and Knott County (September).
Art of the Rural was awarded a grant from the McKnight Foundation to develop a Rural-Urban Exchange in Minnesota.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The exhibition opened in November on view at the Plains Art Museum (Fargo, ND).
Public Launch hosted 25 public events including 4 exhibitions from artists on subjects related to the living everyday culture of the Winona, MN, region.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.