About Our Work: Trust + Time

The front porch of a cabin at Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, Kentucky; Photo: Savannah Barrett

Our website is currently transitioning between platforms.

Thanks for your patience as we move through this process. Please learn more about our work below:

Our Values: 

Our work begins through honoring lived, everyday experience and respecting diverse cultural histories. We assess our success by the degree to which folks build trust and neighborliness over time -- and we believe that those open, inclusive relationships are the foundation of creative problem solving in rural communities.

We seek to meet folks not only where they are, but listen and learn where they have been as well -- and to cultivate the conditions for equitable, longterm exchange. Our organizational capacity to share powerful ideas is only as solid as the spirit of interdependence, and the difference within this.

We believe the idea of distance - geographic, racial, cultural, and economic – can often define the dimensions and the capacities of our rural regions and Indian Country, and their relationships to urban areas. In the divisive years since the 2016 elections, this distance has come to symbolize deep disparities in access to information and resources and to challenge a more equitable and inclusive understanding of the inter-relationship of our cultures and communities. We work with folks to co-create platforms for knowledge-sharing, exchange, and collective impact that collapse this distance and amplify the work of organizations across our region and increase quality of life for its communities.

Our History:

Art of the Rural began in January 2009 as a blog and a digital media effort focused on sharing models for contemporary rural creative work. As the internet in the early 2010’s caught up with rural folks’ aspirations to connect and collaborate, Art of the Rural evolved — offering national convenings, alongside region-focused projects, to stimulate networks of learning and exchange.

This work has progressed as a series of longterm initiatives, each over seven years old at this point: the Rural Generation initiative on culture and creative community development; the River Summit initiative focused on the culture, landscape, and industry of the Mississippi River; and the Rural-Urban Exchange, which offers a creative leadership network to folks across Kentucky and Minnesota. In 2020, in collaboration with the Plains Art Museum, Art of the Rural launched High Visibility: On Location in Rural America and Indian Country, a multi-year, multi-region initiative that matches exhibitions, place-based projects, convenings, and publications towards expanding the national narrative on rural arts and culture. In 2022 will see the launch Spillway, a longterm, collaborative initiative grounded in the diverse cultures, communities, and social contexts of the Upper Mississippi River region.

Though Art of the Rural’s work reaches across many geographies, we are headquartered in Keoxa / Winona, Minnesota, a town located within Dakota homelands, on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Who We Are: (arranged alphabetically when complete) 

Savannah Barrett Exchange Director

Matthew Fluharty
Founder, Executive Director

Sharon Mansur

Spillway Navigator

John Davis

Senior Policy Fellow

Anna Claussen
MN Rural-Urban Exchange Coordinator

New Person
KY Rural-Urban Exchange Coordinator

Lyz Crane
Rural Generation Fellow



Our Board of Directors:
Anna Claussen - Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MN
John Fenn - American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Matthew Glassman, Double Edge Theatre, Ashfield, MA
Sharon Mansur – Dancer, Winona, MN
Nikiko Masumoto - Agrarian Artist, Del Rey, CA
Sarina Otaibi- Minnesota Main Street, Granite Fall, MN
Ashley C. Smith - Fayette Alliance and Black Soil, Lexington, KY
Jesse Vogler - Free University of Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia