Introducing Visible Connections: Contemporary Artists in Rural Space


Today we are excited to share Visible Connections: Contemporary Artists in Rural Space, an Atlas of Rural Arts and Culture project led by AOTR intern Rosemary Markowski that seeks to visualize and connect the network of artists working beyond the city. In this previous reflection on our blog, folks can learn more about Rosemary, her art, and her farm in Virginia. Please stay tuned for more updates, and please feel welcome to contribute to this project!


By Rosemary Markowski

Discovery is at the heart of how we both make and experience art. “Work makes work” references the artist’s ability to produce, but also suggests how the process of witnessing – and reflecting upon –the work of others helps to advance the entire field. Many myths surround creativity, inspiration, and genius, and often these myths exclude the role of exchange and connection. Nowhere, on the map of American art, is this more palpably felt that in rural America.

From Tokyo to Berlin to New York City, a quick art history review will demonstrate that many of the significant movements in the arts have incubated in cities as – until recently – location dictated cultural connection. With the birth of modern art in the mid-1800’s, geographic proximity became essential for both communication and the innovation of new artistic approaches. Thus, we have inherited an identity of the contemporary artist as closely tied to urban space – while those working in rural areas or confined to their home-place by roles such as motherhood or agriculture remain hungry for visibility and feedback. Even well into the twenty-first century, assumptions still persist that that the work of rural-based artists occupies a place “outside” of our broader cultural conversation on the arts, and that it sacrifices aesthetic depth for sentimentality and a sense of place.

We are now in the midst of a new creative dynamic. New media has provided pathways for previously isolated artists and organizations to collaborate, innovate, and, at last, articulate the specifics of their own artistic vision.

With Visible Connections, we aim to challenge worn out conceptions and bring these rural artists and their cultural landscapes into the foreground. In doing so we also seek to make an important connection – and expansion – of the term rural art itself, by welcoming artists placed in rural America while also seeking to include work that may be made in the city but comments and reflects upon questions of the cultural and aesthetic position of rural America. In addition, we welcome collaborators interested in helping all of us understand the broader historical, cultural, and aesthetic context of this work.

We invite artists, individuals, educators, and arts organizations to contribute to building Visible Connections and join in building a collective survey of the landscape of contemporary rural art.


How to Begin:

Contributing to Visible Connections begins with creating a profile:

  1. Visit
  2. Once there, click “JOIN”. Fill in the user information.
  3. Once you’ve gone on to the next page, click on “Join Some Communities”

•   Select “Atlas of Rural Arts and Culture”

  1. The navigation icon at the top left will guide your use of Placestories.

•   By clicking on “My Projects”, you’ll be able to add a project. Select the project “Visible Connections: Contemporary Artists in Rural Space” and once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to add stories.

Here’s how to create a story in the Visible Connections project:

All you’ll need for each story is an image, sound, or video, and 100-500 words of text about your organization, artwork, or project. You’ll also want to list your location, and/or the location of the project. If you have a website, facebook, or other online representation, you’ll want to include those links as well so that you can benefit from the connections that the Atlas can provide.

Here are some tips:

• Image – Landscape shaped images (wider than high) generally work better in the postcard template than portrait shaped images.

• Text– the postcard template displays around 100 words. If you would like to include more text than fits on the postcard it will display in full on the story web page.

• Audio- this is an extra option – you may record audio to accompany your postcard.

• Location – every story must be given a location. The place name you type in appears on the front of the postcard. It can be as specific as a street address.

• Publishing and Tags- your postcard will be published straight into the Visible ConnectionspProject. The project is part of the Atlas of Rural Arts and Culture Community. If you would like any other tags associated with your postcard, please list them in your response. Tags are a great way to expand connection.

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