Faye Dant, Director of Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center in Hannibal, Missouri; photo: Anna Sirianni, KBIA

Spillway is an initiative supporting artists, culture-bearers, and local organizations in their expression of the diverse cultures, communities, and histories of the Upper Mississippi River region.

Through longterm support and storytelling, Spillway works to create the conditions for collaborations that honor diverse lived experience, deepen regional relationships, and build networks of knowledge-sharing and exchange.

Through this process, Spillway seeks to create opportunities for artists, culture-bearers, and organizations to thrive and to connect with new colleagues and audiences. We believe such relationships, cultivated over time, increase the quality of life and cultural wealth of our communities — and amplify the possibilities for both greater equity and economic opportunity. 

Spillway is organized by Art of the Rural, in collaboration with Engage Winona in Winona, Minnesota; Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center in Hannibal, Missouri; the Crossings field school in St. Louis, Missouri; and The American Bottom Project in the East St. Louis region of Illinois.

A full Spillway site, with further partner announcements, will launch in the fall of 2022.

Please find the Spillway Stories emerging from our collaboration with Engage Winona at https://spillway.xyz/

Art of the Rural is grateful for support for Spillway from The Chicago Trust, McKnight Foundation, and Minnesota State Arts Board.

Associated programs alongside this initiative include:

The American Bottom Project: through both an extensive digital resource and The American Bottom Gazette regional print publication, this project invites scholars, activists, artists, educators, and citizens to collaborate towards telling the complicated history of the 65-mile floodplain to the east of St. Louis. This work has recently been featured in Art in America and is the supported by Illinois Humanities and a Divided City grant via the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Anthropocene Vernacular: a collaborative project supported by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and undertaken with The Luminary and a range of artists, curators, scholars, and activists, this work shares the multigenerational story of how the St. Louis region’s people have lived, cultivated and embodied their everyday culture in the midst of the convergence of social, environmental and economic forces.

Public Launch (2016-2020): located in downtown Winona, Minnesota, and this collaborative community space offered media and convening resources, while also presenting free exhibits, meals, and events focused on the everyday, living culture in the Upper Mississippi region.