Springboard for the Arts has selected 11 Rural Regenerator Fellows who live or work in 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 share those geographies).
The peer selection process prioritized people who are Black, Indigenous, Native, People of Color, LGBTQIA+, women and gender non-binary people, and/or people with disabilities. Each fellow will receive $10,000 in flexible funds to support their existing work or to launch a new project in their community, and will participate in two years of learning exchanges with their fellow rural artists.
This inaugural cohort is an exciting mix of individual artists, makers, and culture bearers, grassroots organizers, community development workers, public sector workers and other rural changemakers who are committed to advancing the role of art, culture and creativity in rural development and community building. For the next two years, they will problem solve together on specific rural issues and build community and collective knowledge on equitable post-pandemic relief and recovery, and questions of community care, land stewardship and creative people power.
Alice M McGary
Mustard Seed Community Farm, Rural Central Iowa
Alice McGary is a farmer, fiddler, potter, fiber artist, and a community facilitator. She works to create spaces/opportunities to encounter beauty, build justice and community resilience, and examine personal and societal beliefs through events, music, art, publications, and everyday practical objects of joy.
Amber Hansen is a muralist and visual artist who creates socially engaged and community-based artwork. Hansen's studio work is a dialogue between her formal education and her rural upbringing. She promotes creative engagement for all ages while raising questions about the ethics of animal welfare and humans relationship with food.
North Moorhead, MN
Annie Hough was born and raised in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Her first loves were nature and literature. After sustaining a traumatic brain injury during adolescence, those loves helped her to stay positive. They actually became passions -- guiding her towards a Master's degree in Horticulture and a career writing educational plays for children.
Annie is delighted to live in Moorhead, Minnesota with her wonderful friend Richard and their adorable little dog, Elmer. As a new home and garden owner, she has joined the Clay County Master Gardener program and fallen in love with gardening.
Staying healthy and active is a top priority for Annie. In addition to writing and gardening, her interests include exploring nature, reading, eating, triking, swimming and kayaking with friends and family. Annie is having a blast working on her seventh educational play for children.
Bethany Lacktorin (she/her/hers)
Pope County, Ordway Prairie
Bethany Lacktorin is a performance artist and community organizer who lives and was raised in Pope County on so-called Ordway Prairie. An adopted Korean raised by Scandinavians on this stolen Dakota land, her artistic work is a navigation and interpretation of dual identities and reconciliations. Mindful of the layers of history this land embodies for herself, the Dakota who were forced off, and for the neighboring Scandinavian descendants, Lacktorin's artistic practice rests on modes of co-existence: the understanding that You and I are host and guest to the places we occupy and to each other. And that this relationship is one of continuous exchange and reciprocity. With the hope of reflecting these principals in her work, relationships and in whatever she puts into the world, Lacktorin serves as chair of the New London Arts Alliance, is the Director of Little Theatre Auditorium and chairs the New London Human Rights Commission.
Bad Nation, South Dakota via Pierre, SD
Talon Bazille is a rap artist/poet from the Crow Creek Dakota and Cheyenne River Lakota tribes of South Dakota. An alum of the University of Pennsylvania, Bazille graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's in psychology with the group thesis, "Academic & Non-Academic Correlates to Academic Achievement". Bazille is currently the head of Wonahun Was'te' Studios (translating to "Good, healing sound of music" - a name gifted by Ciye' General ThunderHawk), providing access to a recording studio for people around central South Dakota. The studio was supported in 2019 by First People's Fund's Cultural Capital Fellowship. In collaboration with DCM Collective and Panoramic Dreams, Bazille released, "Traveling the Multiverse with Iktomi", a 3-part album series about the trickster Iktomi, now available on all platforms. He is currently working on his next solo release, "Ghost Plant" - which features artwork from Sicangu Lakota artist Tani Gordon. For more information on Bazille, visit www.BAZTK.com
Mai'a is an interdisciplinary artist who primarily works in sculpture, performance, installation, poetry and prose. Their studio, curatorial and research-based practice weaves together their identity as a queer Muslim and a daughter of First Nations and Black American lineages, as well as their experience as a midwife and a mother. Their work is a response to revolutionary mothering, global Black death, their African and First Nations ancestry and joy. It is a reflection of living and working with Egyptian, Palestinian, Congolese, and Central American Indigenous mothers in resistance communities for more than 15 years.
Watertown and Milwaukee, WI
Molly Hassler is an interdisciplinary artist who often embraces collaboration and primarily uses drawing and fibers techniques to mine the complex relation between representation and identity as a queer person in the Midwest. Currently working as a teaching Artist in Residence with Lynden Sculpture Garden, Molly carries out multiple community based projects in Milwaukee Public Schools. In Spring 2021, they created a quilted greenhouse with 4th and 5th Grade art students and a collaborating art educator, Sue Pezanoski-Browne.
Cultivating an understanding of queer world-making and small town living, Molly’s drawings are relics of the regional and geographic dysphoria they feel navigating the contemporary art world and the bucolic life of their upbringing. Acting off of an overwhelming lack of midwestern and non-urban queer imagery, Molly makes their own, imagining the rural as a queer utopia and manifesting LGBT+ representations of working class labor.
J Erin Hutchinson
Herbster, WI, on the south shore of Lake Superior
J Erin Hutchinson’s career has a common thread of passion driven launches of companies and organizations. After leaving home at 16, she launched several small businesses (from a video store chain to coffee shop to retail stores) and two nonprofits all by the age of 21. This experience led her to launching a creative agency, Narrative Shift, that primarily works with healthcare tech & biotech startups to help them craft a corporate narrative that generates excitement & curiosity amongst their target customers.
After some sea change events in her life in 2018, Hutchinson decided to take a leap of faith and buy a home in Herbster, on the South Shore of Lake Superior. Coming from six generations of dairy farmers, she wanted to return to her rural, farming roots and become an active member of her community. Hutchinson founded Authentic Superior in late spring of 2020, which is focused on creating a more sustainable local economy for the wealth of artists, farmers, craftspeople, and food producers in the greater South Shore region. Erin is also president-elect of the Chequamegon Bay Arts Council, president of the Bay Area Film Society, and represents Herbster's township on the Scenic Byway Committee.
Inkpa Mani (he/him/his)
Inkpa Mani is an Indigenous artist who grew up in the lands now known as Mexico and the United States and he currently lives in Wheaton, Minnesota. He earned his BFA at the University of South Dakota in 2019. Inkpa is a multi-disciplinary artist and academic. Inkpa works with paints, stone, paper, and digital media to explore his culture. His process involves community, oral histories, institutional research, and critical theory to highlight the concerns and values of his people. He integrates art, history, and tradition to share new ideas of contemporary life. Inkpa shares the continuum of Indian art that has continued to evolve for thousands of years. He shares his knowledge of Native American history, art and culture and how Indigenous people have adapted to changes in social and cultural landscapes. He has worked on large scale sculptures, murals, and community-based arts in the Midwest as well as working with Dakota language education for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. Inkpa currently works at Tiospa Zina Tribal School and is earning his Business Administration degree and his Dakota Teaching Certificate form Sisseton Wahpeton College. He is working on an extensive portrait series and a large-scale stone sculpture in Sisseton, SD.
Sandra Kern Mollman
North of Vermillion, SD
Sandra Kern Mollman is a mother and co-creator living north of Vermillion, SD. She and her partner returned to the Dakotas 17 years ago to explore live theatre with the people of the prairie. Their “Pretend Farm” has grown to two children, two dogs, three cats, and 10 chickens. Sandra is a community-based theatre-maker, musician, and writer, co-creating Cardboard Boat Regattas, Y Pony songs, Crumpled Paper Players' cantastorias and zoom theatre, and more.
Sandra uses her tools and assets as an artist to imagine, devise, and embody the world she wants to see. Her creative practice integrates processes of creativity with science and spirituality for personal and global transformation grounded in justice and employs those processes to co-create the Real World that we want to see; a world that works for everyone.
Albert Lea, MN
Elisha Andrew Marin is a musician, artist and educator from Minnesota. He currently serves as the president of the Freeborn County Arts Initiative in Albert Lea, Minnesota, board member of the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, elementary music and art teacher, and sole proprietor of Inkfish, Inc. graphic design studio.