“Some say the grass is greener on the other side, your grass can be just as green when you take time to water it". – Christy Goulet, Artists Respond: Equitable Rural Futures artist
The murder of George Floyd and other Black lives at the hands of police, increased polarization across geographies and ideologies, the rise in emboldened white supremacist groups, and the disproportionate impact of the COVID crisis on people with disabilities, has led to necessary conversations and action that advance equity and racial justice in rural communities.
To support the creative work that is essential to this movement, Springboard invited artists and creatives in rural and tribal communities of 25,000 people or less in Minnesota to propose projects that center the perspectives and experiences of people who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or People of Color), Native, LGBTQIA+, and/or People with disabilities in rural and tribal communities, create safe and supportive spaces for connection, confront truth about historic harms, bring non-dominant stories into light, and/or address racism, homophobia and/or transphobia. Selected artists were offered project support of up to $2500. Whether using music and dance, food, craft and traditional art, public art, fashion and design, the mail or local media, we know rural artists can play an important role in helping their communities imagine and build a more just and equitable future for all.
Artists Respond: Equitable Rural Futures selected artists, clockwise from top left: Christy Goulet, Mai'a Williams, Joyce laPorte, Inkpa Mani, Michelle de la Vega, and Nancy XiáoRong Valentine.
This opportunity is supported by the Blandin Foundation.
Artists Respond: Equitable Rural Futures is now closed, but Springboard for the Arts is excited to expand on our 10 years of work in supporting and connecting creative rural leaders in the upper Midwest with the new Rural Regenerator Fellowship. 10 Fellows will be selected from communities of 50,000 people or fewer across the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and the Native Nations that serve those geographies). Fellows will receive $10,000 in flexible funds to support their existing work and/or to launch a new project in their community.
Applications for the Rural Regenerator Fellowship are due by June 11, 2021, with information sessions on April 30 and May 21.
Artists Respond: Equitable Rural Futures Projects
The Audacity to be Asian in Rural America
Nancy XiáoRong Valentine
Project date: May 10 - June 19th, 2021
“The Audacity to be Asian in Rural America: we owe you no apologies” is a series of 12 watercolor and Chinese ink scroll paintings on rice paper that visually tells the story of the Hao family’s Chinese American immigrant experience in rural western Minnesota. Artist talk and listening circle featuring stories and experiences shared by regional residents of the Asian American Pacific Islander community will take place in June at the Otter Tail County Historical Society in Fergus Falls. https://www.nancyxvalentine.com | @nancyxvalentine | https://www.facebook.com/nancyxvalentine
The Future of Love
Project date: September 2021 publication
The Future of Love is a collection of essays, poems, images and prompts about living on the margins in rural Minnesota during a series of global crises - while mothering a teenage daughter. It is poetry as mutual aid. Interwoven in the texts are reflections on being Black, Indigenous, queer, nonbinary, Muslim with mental health challenges. The prompts/questions invite the reader to self-reflect on their own personal crises, on history, land, and what the future of love looks like. https://www.maiawilliams.net/
Pseudonym: The Importance of Indian Names
Project date: August - September 2021
"Pseudonym" will look at the importance of a name to Indigenous people. Many Native Americans today have both a legal name and a traditional name they use, but outside of tribal communities there are a lot of misconceptions about it. Inkpa Mani will interview elders with traditional Indian names and create portraits of them based on their name. He will then project the interviews and artwork he creates on to local buildings to share the pride and rich culture of an Indian names. https://javierlararuiz.wixsite.com/mysite | @inkpa_mani_art
Preserving our legacy, Honoring our Indigenous Youth at Noojimo
Project date: Ongoing
Christy will share Indigenous music and teachings about the deweigan (drum), keeping stories and hope alive while passing on knowledge to the younger generation! Elders will teach youth about the meaning of the drum, and the prayers and songs for health, healing and happiness that accompany the drum. Community members will gather every weekend and either have a Inipi (Sweat-lodge) which these songs are the main component of, or learn oral teachings and traditions from elders that go with these songs. The events will also help young people learn independent living skills and how to stay connected to their true selves through language, song and ceremony.
Michelle de la Vega
Project target date: October 2021
High Jump is a social practice, documentary film and multidisciplinary art project that focuses on land access for BIPOC communities, specifically BIPOC women, in the context of agricultural rural environments. The project will follow the journeys of two BIPOC women, one single and one partnered, as they endeavor to access land for themselves and their families. High Jump will explore topics such as food sovereignty, sustainability for self and family, black and brown spaces, internalized oppression, systemic equity barriers, creative ways to access land outside the establishment, beliefs and ideas about land, ownership and more. The content of the project will be developed through dialog, film documentation, land based art making, poetry and play writing. https://michelledelavega.com/
Make a Village
Project date: August 2021
Joyce will make a village of Ojibwe faceless dolls depicting the importance of family and community. They will be displayed in the community library on the Fond du Lac Reservation for hands on interaction for all ages. The dolls will draw the community into a dialogue about family, language, and safety in the community, reminding youth and elders alike that there is always someone there for you no matter what the crisis is.
Questions via email will be answered on a best effort basis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover photo: Ms Lexi D's Catwalk Party in Fergus Falls, organized by DomFreq productions. Photo by Eric Santwire.