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High Visibility: On Location in Rural America and Indian Country

Arts & Culture Podcasts

High Visibility is a podcast produced by Art of the Rural and Plains Art Museum that welcomes into conversation artists, culture bearers, and leaders from across rural America and Indian Country.


United States


High Visibility is a podcast produced by Art of the Rural and Plains Art Museum that welcomes into conversation artists, culture bearers, and leaders from across rural America and Indian Country.






Photography and Community: Xavier Tavera

Today we have the opportunity to speak with Xavier Tavera, a photographer who builds deep, longterm relationships with communities and creates work that expresses the humanity, and the historical currents, within the complexities of contemporary Latinx culture. Please find show notes and a transcript on this conversation's page on High Visibility. After moving from Mexico City to the United States, Xavier learned what it felt like to be part of a subculture -- the immigrant community. Being subjected to alienation has transformed the focus of his photographs to share the lives of those who are marginalized. Images have offered insight into the diversity of numerous communities and given a voice to those who are often invisible. Xavier has shown his work extensively in the Twin Cities, and nationally and internationally including Germany, Scotland, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay and China. His work is part of the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Plains Art Museum, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Minnesota History Center, and the Weisman Art Museum. He is a recipient of the McKnight fellowship, Jerome Travel award, Minnesota State Arts Board grant, and a Bronica scholarship. Along the way in this conversation, we learn more about how Xavier came to photography, and his sense of the philosophical questions within the act of taking a picture – and we get to learn more about the town of Crookston, Minnesota, with which he’s had a decades long relationship. We also discuss his evolving Latinx in the Rural Midwest project, in particular his time with charro community and migrant dairy workers across this region. In this wide-ranging conversation, Xavier also shares the work of Grupo Soap del Corazón, a dynamic, ever-evolving Latinx art collective he co-founded with Dougie Padilla. The exhibition La Línea: 22 Years of Grupo Soap del Corazón is currently on view at the Plains Art Museum through August 13, 2022. High Visibility is an initiative of Art of the Rural and Plains Art Museum. Gratitude to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for their support of this work.


The Long Conversation: Dyani White Hawk and Jovan C. Speller

We are grateful to share Dyani White Hawk and Jovan C. Speller taking part in a podcast format we are calling The Long Conversation -- one that offers folks the chance to cultivate a thread of ideas and relationships without the presence of an interviewer Please find extensive show notes, transcripts, and links on the episode site. Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota) is a visual artist and independent curator based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Most recently, her work was included in the 2022 Whitney Biennial, and also presented as a major solo exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Dyani also previously served as Gallery Director and Curator for the All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis. Jovan C. Speller is a multidisciplinary artist based in Minnesota. She has received a McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship and the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation Minnesota Art Prize. Her installation In Lottie’s Living Room was featured in the High Visibility Exhibtion at the Plains Art Museum, and her exhibition Nurturing, and Other Rituals of Protection was recently presented by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. This Long Conversation was an experiment, one born from a desire to share with a wider audience what might happen when these two friends and collaborators had the space to relax into a conversation about life, art, family, land, and whichever topics and contexts emerged through that flow. In the time that transpires here, we hear both artists at a point of transition between exhibitions -- with major projects ahead -- reflecting on how the central presence of Black and Native women help us understand the dimensions of the cultural moment we all are walking through. Their time together opens with the power of intergenerational knowledge in their collaborative work Choosing Home, and expands to consider Jovan’s time spent with relatives in rural North Carolina learning family history, and Dyani’s time with Native women across the continent who speak the languages of their people. Rooted in these experiences, the conversation asks how artists, institutions, and communities can better honor and more deeply support the cultural histories and lived experiences that animate these connections. Land is a constant presence and relational force throughout, ground on which we’re left with a deeper understanding of these artists’ creative practice but also with a sense of the kind of futures we could all inhabit. High Visibility is an initiative of Art of the Rural and Plains Art Museum. Gratitude to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for their support of this work.


Traveling in Place: Erika Nelson

High Visibility is a podcast on arts, culture, and ideas in rural America and Indian Country produced by Art of the Rural and Plains Art Museum, a part of a longterm collaboration of exhibitions, publications, and events that share the richly divergent stories, experiences, and visions of folks across the continent. This episode is hosted by Matthew Fluharty, organizing curator of High Visibility. Today’s guest is Erika Nelson, an independent artist and educator whose work asks provocative questions on the place of contemporary art in the public realm, particularly in rural spaces. Erika's work can be followed on Facebook and Instagram. While living in a vehicle for two years, she traveled the nooks and crannies of the United States seeking out the odd and unusual, and gathering stories of people who built Outsider Art Environments and Roadside Vernacular Architecture Erika developed her own traveling roadside attraction and museum -- The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things, and she settled in Lucas, Kansas in a house adjacent to S.P. Dinsmoor's visionary folk art site The Garden of Eden. Her work manifests itself in a series of interesting, innovative, engaging public art projects that incorporate art into everyday experience. Through her travels, she has written a Graduate thesis titled Driving Around Looking at Big Things While Thinking About Spam, prepared a full meal utilizing foil and her automobile's radiator and heat manifold, stood on a sideshow performer lying on a bed of nails with a genuine Kansas Cowboy at the last functioning 10-in-1 sideshow in Coney Island, found out whatThe Thing is in southern Arizona, drunk free ice water at Wall Drug, eaten Rocky Mountain Oysters, bought a Genuine Walnut Bowl from somewhere along I-70, seen Rock City, and been stuck in a traffic jam in Branson in front of Yakov Smirnof. Erika's piece Gremlin Cache was featured in the recent High Visibility exhibition at Plains Art Museum. Our conversation dwells on the communities, places, and artworks that tell the story of this journey. Along the way, Erika shares a ton of wisdom on what life in a small town in Kansas can teach us about how we live, work, and create across difference. This conversation was recorded in late summer, in that beautiful time of year, as Erika describes, when a harvest of ripe tomatoes leaves everyone ready to share the abundance with their neighbors. Artist photograph above by John Noltner for A Peace of My Mind: American Stories.


1001 Arab Futures: Sharon Mansur

Today we have the chance to speak with Sharon Mansur and to learn more about her recent work in 1001 Arab Futures, An intimate outdoor site-specific dance performance and visual installation that contemplates imaginative visions, past reckonings, embodied truths and other future potentials from the Arab diaspora. Sharon Mansur created this work in collaboration with Yara Boustany, Andrea Shaker, and Metta Loulou Von Kohl. While this effort weaves through the materials, memories, and lived experiences of this Arab diaspora across generations and continents, it’s being presented in Sharon’s home community of Winona, a Mississippi River town located in southeastern Minnesota on the the traditional lands of the Oceti Šakowiŋ, Sauk, and Meskwaki peoples Sharon Mansur is a dance and interdisciplinary experimental artist, educator, and curator. Her creative practices weave movement making, improvisation, visual environments, food, screendance, and audience participation to offer multi-sensory and immersive experiences rooted in the body, imagination, and environment. In recent years, Sharon has received support for her work from the McKnight Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, and Springboard for the Arts – and she was a 2019 National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow. Sharon is currently the Director of The Cedar Tree Project, presenting and amplifying regional, national, and international creative voices of the Southwest Asian and North African diaspora. Just as Sharon’s creative practice arches across many disciplines, and welcomes many individuals and audiences as collaborators, so to does her own creative path in contemporary dance extend across urban and rural communities. Thus, while, Sharon has lived in Washington DC in the aftermath of 9/11, and created work that meditates on the erasures, violence, and misunderstandings directed toward Arab individuals, her recent work has brought those opportunities for experience and exchange to the rural upper Midwest – and has opened up a space for folks beyond the city to sit more deeply, more intimately, with racial and cultural difference. In a moment when the COVID-19 pandemic has created headlines about urban outmigration to rural areas, Sharon’s work underscores the immense potentials for sustained intercultural exchange on the local level. Just as her work supports a meditative space to sit with expanded understandings of Arab identity and diaspora, it also presents an exciting opportunity to think again about what we mean when we say “rural” or “rural art,” and how the ever-shifting movements of people and culture can enrich our understanding of how we are in relationship with others. We are grateful for the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts in making this endeavor possible – and we welcome folks to check out and subscribe to these conversations on their favorite podcast platforms. To learn more about Sharon Mansur's work pleases visit: http://www.mansurdance.com/ To learn more about the artists, exhibitions, and publications involved with the High Visibility initiative, please visit: https://inhighvisibility.org/ High Visibility is a longterm collaboration between Art of the Rural and Plains Art Museum: http://artoftherural.org/ https://plainsart.org/


How We Gather: Su Legatt

High Visibility is a podcast, exhibition, and publication series produced by Art of the Rural and Plains Art Museum that welcomes into conversation artists, culture bearers, and leaders from across rural America and Indian Country. We are grateful for the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Today we have the chance to speak with Su Legatt, and to learn more about how her upbringing in rural Minnesota, and her experiences as an artist and advocate for rural communities, have shaped her recent work and her sense of where we are headed in both the national conversation on rural culture and in the current forms of support and visibility available to rural artists. We have a chance in this conversation to see these ideas intersect across her work, notably in her recent series Dish – which celebrates the forms of generational knowledge, local culture, and personal creativity present in the Midwestern potluck. The events, and the subsequent Dish book all offer, in Su’s words, an opportunity to “bring people together for intimate exchange and the preservation of private moments” and to “collectively build a more complex and complete understanding of Minnesota identity while building new connections and strengthening existing networks.” Along the way here, Su also shares her work in Advice from Minnesota Grandmothers, which shares some similarities with the Dish events, in that she presents another element of rural everyday life – in this case the crocheted doily – and offers it as a vessel for a much deeper channel of generational knowledge. Like Dish, it defamiliarizes our associations to objects and practices that we might initially dismiss or overlook. After being with this work, we find surprising bridges between cultures, and some powerful expressions of vulnerability and intimacy, that emerge from these materials. Su Legatt is an artist, educator, and community organizer. Her photography, installation, and social practice projects explore the quiet, often unnoticed, individual moments of every day life. Su utilizes a variety of community engagement techniques and crowd sourcing methods to create opportunities for participants to share with others in the hopes of creating what she describes as “micro moments of empathy.” Su is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead and Utah State University and she has taught photography, digital media, and professional development courses at Lake Superior College, Minnesota State University Moorhead, and North Dakota State University and a wide variety of workshops throughout the United States. She works with various non-profit organizations to organize and create cultural events that help to improve the social structures and relations within each community. As an Arts and Culture Commissioner for the city of Moorhead, Minnesota Ms. Legatt works with legislators, non and for profit organizations, and local artists to support and strengthen the role of the region’s creative community. Artist photograph above by Amanda Fechtner


What The Sound Carries: Raven Chacon

Today we have the chance to speak with Raven Chacon, and to learn more about the experiences that have shaped his work across a variety of forms – from his music compositions, to his visual scores and installations, through to his leadership in the Native American Composer Apprentice Project and his piece American Ledger No. 2, currently on view at the Plains Art Museum. Raven Chacon's artist site: http://spiderwebsinthesky.com/ This conversation moves across an array of lands and traditions– from Navajo Nation to Aristotle’s Lyceum, from string quartets to heavy metal – and a presence that connects many of the pieces Raven discusses is his time as a guest with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock in 2016. Afterwards, he reflected on the experience, he wrote this: “The camps became the imagined microcosm of a North America where we were still the majority, self-sustained and self-governed, no other direct action than simply being alive and retaining our ways. What became apparent—even in the short time I was there and under the shadow of militaristic surveillance—was a shared experience: remembering one’s identity, while at the same time re-imagining who we aimed to be. What was achieved there was not a funneling of a pan-Indian sameness, but rather a radial explosion of every potential dreamt history.” Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. As a solo artist, collaborator, or with the Postcommodity, he has exhibited or performed at a wide range of institutions and spaces including the Whitney Biennial, documenta 14, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Chaco Canyon, and The Kennedy Center. Every year, he teaches 20 students to write string quartets for the Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP). Raven is the recipient of the United States Artists fellowship in Music, The Creative Capital award in Visual Arts, The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation artist fellowship, and the American Academy’s Berlin Prize for Music Composition. Works and connections mentioned in this episode: // Native American Composers Apprentice Project (excellent feature here by NPR Performance Today): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0U_C2iKIGY // An Anthology of Chants Operations LP: https://ravenchacon.bandcamp.com/album/an-anthology-of-chants-operations // The Ears Between Worlds are Always Speaking installation in Athens, Greece: http://www.postcommodity.com/TheEarsBetweenWorlds.html // Dispatch, a collaboration with Candice Hopkins: https://disclaimer.org.au/contents/unsettling-scores/dispatch // STTLMNT, An Indigenous Digital World Wide Occupation: https://www.sttlmnt.org/ // American Ledger No. 2: http://spiderwebsinthesky.com/portfolio/items/american-ledger-no-2/ // For Zitkála Šá series of prints at Crow's Shadow Institute for the Arts https://crowsshadow.org/artist/raven/ // Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/hungry-listening // Radio Alhara: https://worldwidefm.net/show/ww-palestine-radio-alhara


Memory, Myth, and Home: Jovan C. Speller

Jovan C. Speller joins Matthew Fluharty for a conversation on her recent work and its meditation on Black origins, land, and multilayered family histories. Jovan C. Speller is a multidisciplinary artist based in Minneapolis, MN. Her work – visual, textual and performative – interprets historic narratives through contemporary discourse. Her research-based practice is centered around elevating, complicating and inventing stories that explore ancestry, identity, and spatial memory – making the intangible tangible and the invisible visible. Speller holds a B.F.A. in Fine Art Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Speller's work has been exhibited at The Plains Art Museum, the Bockley Gallery, and Minneapolis College of Art and Design, with upcoming solo exhibitions at Aspect/Ratio Projects and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She is a recipient of the McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship, a Next Step Fund Grant, the Jerome Emerging Artist Fellowship, and a Minnesota State Arts Board grant. She completed a residency at Second Shift Studio Space in St. Paul and was awarded the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation Minnesota Art Prize in 2021. Speller is represented by Aspect/Ratio Projects in Chicago. For more information on Jovan's work: http://jovanspeller.com/ For more information on the High Visibility exhibition at the Plains Art Museum: https://plainsart.org/exhibitions/high-visibility/ High Visibility exhibition site: https://inhighvisibility.org/ In this conversation, Jovan mentions the following works: This video of Jovan's photographic process, and the Choosing Home series, can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDuQLPAglfc Relics of Home: http://jovanspeller.com/relics-of-home In Lottie's Living Room: https://inhighvisibility.org/Jovan-C-Speller High Visibility is a partnership with Plains Art Museum and Art of the Rural: https://plainsart.org/ http://artoftherural.org/ We are grateful for the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Less Arc, More Contact: Karl Unnasch

In this episode, Karl Unnasch joins Matthew Fluharty for a conversation on his creative process, rural community, and bridging difference between cultures and geographies. Husk, his metal and stained glass sculpture of a crushed Busch Light can, is included in the High Visibility exhibition. A rugged farm upbringing streaked with a penchant for the surreal: This has been the driving force behind the work of Karl Unnasch. With decades of expertise in wood, metal, stonework and stained glass, phantasmagorical combinations of media have become his hallmark. Backed by a comprehensive education in the arts (MFA 2003), his notions morph into works that toy with nostalgia, knitting together sources of collective memory while ringing with an element of his own whimsy. Unnasch’s smaller-scale work has been exhibited as far as Europe and acclaimed in publications such as the New York Times and Art in London Magazine, while his larger-scale, award-winning public art has been featured on the likes of NBC’s Today show, Reader’s Digest and Voice of America. For over a decade, Unnasch has focused primarily on public and architectural art, typically incorporating backlit stained glass into sculptural installations. His work adorns educational facilities, banks, theaters, libraries, museum grounds, businesses and public gathering spaces across North America. To dive deeper into Karl Unnasch's work: http://www.karlunnasch.com/ For more information on the High Visibility exhibition at the Plains Art Museum: https://plainsart.org/exhibitions/high-visibility/ High Visibility exhibition site: https://inhighvisibility.org/ In this conversation, Karl mentions the following works: Operant, at the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston: http://www.karlunnasch.com/project-pages/operant/2019-05-operant-an-oldowonk-cataract-stained-glass-dump-truck.html Ruminant, in Reedsburg, Wisconsin: http://www.karlunnasch.com/project-pages/ruminant/2013-10-ruminant-stained-glass-harvesting-combine.html Slumgullion, at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa: http://www.karlunnasch.com/project-pages/slumgullion/2018-10-slumgullion-the-venerate-outpost-philbrook-museum-tulsa-log-cabin.html At the conclusion of our time together, Karl mentions some music that has been moving him lately: Sturgill Simpson: https://www.sturgillsimpson.com/ Waylon Payne: https://waylonpaynemusic.co/ The HU: https://www.thehuofficial.com/ We are grateful for the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.