Sharon Mansur leading a dabke, a traditional Arab folkdance, during her Dreaming Under a Cedar Tree project; Photo: Sydney Swanson
From its community collaborative space in downtown Winona, Minnesota, Art of the Rural has offered over 70 events and 10 exhibitions freely to the region, opportunities ranging from Project Fine’s Hearing the Voices video storytelling work on the lives of immigrants and refugees, 1 Million Cups Winona rural entrepreneurial networking events, and contemporary community-engaged projects merging the arts and creative problem solving, such as Ashley Hanson’s Public Transformation, the Hearing the Voices collaboration with Project FINE, Jon Swanson’s Winona Characters, Sharon Mansur’s Dreaming Under a Cedar Tree, Mike Munson’s Winona Anthems, and Mai’a Williams’ Bodies of the Desert.
In June of 2019, Art of the Rural will announce Public Launch, an evolution of its mission to contribute toward the conditions for community problem-solving and long-term cultural exchange through its Winona space. With this announcement, Art of the Rural welcomes Engage Winona as an equal partner and collaborator in the building, creating opportunities for Art of the Rural to work in collaboration with the intentional community facilitation of Engage Winona, a non-profit organization that has catalyzed a wide range of partnerships toward a vision of a more equitable community.
While Art of the Rural and Engage Winona will host their respective programs and events in Public Launch, their collaborative work has already begun. Through the support of the City of Winona, these two organizations are working with neighborhoods to cultivate community engagement and creative problem solving, and to further creative placemaking practices that make visible these neighborhoods’ needs, as well as their visions for the future. This work will culminate in a new comprehensive plan for the City of Winona, one driven by the stories, aspirations, and perspectives of its distinct neighborhoods.
Public Launch will continue to offer exhibitions, events, and projects that share the everyday living culture of the region and build cross-sector connections, and it will also utilize the space to create regional podcasts and video conversations to better network artist, communities, and leaders in Minnesota.
The work of Art of the Rural in its Public Launch space is supported by the Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Winona Foundation, and a range of private and in-kind community donations.