Later this week, The Art of the Rural will take part in the fourth Rustbelt to Artist Belt conference, which is meeting this year in Saint Louis, Missouri -- which is also home to Washington University, the headquarters of AOTR.
We're pleased to welcome a phenomenal panel of artists, writers and cultural workers for the Re-Thinking The Rural Arts discussion at the Rustbelt to Artist Belt conference: Mary Stewart Atwell, writer, critic, and author of the novel Wild Girls (Scribner, 2013); Brian Frink, artist, professor, and founder of the Rural America Contemporary Art Institute; Rachel Reynolds Luster, folkorist, AOTR Contributing Editor, and founder of HomeCorps; and Richard Saxton, artist, professor, and founder of the M12 interdisciplinary art collective. AOTR Editor Matthew Fluharty will moderate the discussion.
In light of conference preparations and events, new articles will appear again on The Art of the Rural next week -- though we will be updating the Arts and Culture Feed during this time.
Please find the introduction to the Re-Thinking The Rural Arts panel discussion below:
Rural America is undergoing a period of dramatic cultural and demographic change. Its people are poised to take agency over their own narrative, as new media is allowing for the open and decentralized sharing of stories – from next door to across the continent. In concert with this, interest in sustainable and local food systems has leant a visibility, and a cultural and economic force, to a rural landscape often relegated to distorting pastoral clichés.
These dynamic possibilities offer a moving and multi-layered metaphor for the kinds of work to be created in rural America, as artists and community members are working across disciplines to re-think and re-imagine rural America – and to make connections to their partners in urban and international locales.
This panel presents the work of four artists and community leaders who are offering a new vision for the role of the arts in rural America. By connecting across disciplines and across geographic regions, these practitioners are examples of how serious aesthetic work can also function as an engine for social change and community development.