WHO WE ARE
The Art of The Rural staff is comprised of the next generation of rural Americans: those who have stayed, those who have left, and those who have returned.
We recognize that “rural arts and culture” is not the sole province of individuals born and raised in a place census officials deem “non-metropolitan.” All of America has a stake in this work. Art of the Rural operates from an understanding that a great deal of the art, culture, and policy surrounding rural issues emanates from beyond its geography — and we encourage participation with our colleagues both in urban America, as well as in international locales.
We believe that hierarchical thinking often works to the detriment of rural America. Thus, Art of the Rural functions as a decentralized, collaborative organization. Whether working individually, or in consortium with partnering groups across the arts and culture landscape, we operate within a network of cooperation and cross-pollination:
Matthew Fluharty, Executive Director
Matthew Fluharty is a visual artist, writer, and field-based researcher living in Winona, Minnesota, a town placed along the Mississippi River. He is the Executive Director of Art of the Rural and its Outpost community studio in Winona, a member of M12 Studio, and he serves on the Board of Directors of Common Field. Matthew’s poetry and essays have been widely published in the US and abroad. His essay “Burn the Maps,” considering contemporary rural-based art and cultural practice, was commissioned Walker Art Center for their convening Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age. His collaborations with M12 Studio have been featured at the Santa Fe Art Institute and the Iowa State Fair, while his multidisciplinary collaboration with Jesse Vogler in the American Bottom region of the Mississippi River was recently the subject of an exhibition at Central Features in Albuquerque and featured in Art in America.
Savannah Barrett, Director of Programs
Savannah Barrett is the Director of Programs for Art of the Rural and co-founder of the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange. She serves the board of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, the Art of Community: Rural SC, and the Robert E. Gard Foundation. She has widely published essays and interviews. She holds a Masters of Arts Management from the University of Oregon, and is an alumnus of the Muhammad Ali Scholars for Peace and Justice at the University of Louisville and from the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. She previously guided programs for the Center for Community Arts and Cultural Policy, the Louisville Visual Art Association, the Oregon Folklife Network, and Paul Paletti Gallery. Savannah is a twelfth-generation Kentuckian and was raised in Grayson Springs, where she co-founded a local arts agency in high school. She is a proud steward of six acres of her homeplace and currently lives in Louisville.