Announcing From the Field!

Update! Join us for From the Field: Imagining the Future of Creativity, Healing and Wellness with Holly Doll and Jamie Horter on April 9!

From the Field is Springboard for the Arts’ new virtual conversation series that brings together artists who are reimagining the future of rural America. These artist-to-artist talks will explore rural-specific topics such as COVID response and recovery, equity and justice, food systems and agriculture, and more, through the lens of rural artists, culture bearers and makers.

In a time when rural communities are undergoing many transitions that require bold creativity and a multitude of perspectives, this series will help artists, culture workers and other rural practitioners connect and exchange ideas about creative community leadership, while creating an archive of the important questions (and possible answers) that will lead to more resilient, equitable and vibrant rural communities.

This series is an extension of Springboard for the Arts’ Rural Arts and Culture Summit, which is a biennial gathering of rural artists and practitioners.

The first two From the Field conversations will be:

Imagining the future of artists as economic developers
Friday, November 13, 1pm CST
*Watch the recap here:*
A conversation with Em Johnson and Jack Forinash from Blue Sky Center (Cuyama, CA), hosted by Drew Digby from Arrowhead Regional Arts Council (Duluth, MN).

Imagining the future of being a good relative
Friday, December 11, 1pm CST
A conversation with Peter Strong and Mary Bordeaux from Racing Magpie (Rapid City, SD), hosted by Ashley Hanson from the Department of Public Transformation (Granite Falls, MN).

Graphic with headshots of Em Johnson, Jack Forinash, and Drew Digby
Through measured and deliberate work,
Em Johnson has been leading rural innovation through social enterprises and systems thinking with Blue Sky Center since 2016. She is motivated by holistic community investment that uses celebratory tools of art and creative community engagement, often bringing people together over food. In the Cuyama Valley, Em connects people to resources, developing a self-sufficient model by blending entrepreneurial initiatives to reclaim the power of rural resiliency.

Jack Forinash’s role at Blue Sky Center – and in the Cuyama Valley as a community member – has focused on seeking a definition of Cuyama that is quantified, verified, and self-determined. With an attention to detail and a love of spreadsheets, Jack focuses rural development discussions on the importance of data in communicating the human experience of a place. For the past sixteen years, Jack has preferred to make his home in towns of 1,000 or less, believing that by having the opportunity to know everyone by face and name we have the best chance to exhibit a civil society.

Drew Digby is the executive director of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. ARAC serves more than 18,000 square miles of Northeastern Minnesota as part of Minnesota’s system of regional arts councils, providing grants and services to artists and arts organizations. Digby currently serves as the President of the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota and as a board member for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. Prior to ARAC, Digby worked in economic and community development, taught at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and worked as a journalist. He ran a pop-up art gallery in Duluth called Studio 3 West that was part of his consulting business that helps artists with career and business strategies. Digby holds an MA in History from the University of Chicago, as well as a BA in Religious Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.


Graphic with Mary Bordeaux, Peter Strong, and Ash Hanson

Mary V. Bordeaux is an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) and was raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She received her BFA in Museum Studies from the Institute of American Indian Arts, her MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design from the University of the Arts located in Philadelphia, PA, and is currently working on her dissertation in Lakota epistemology at Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota.  She has served in multiple lead curatorial and leadership roles in the region and has worked tirelessly to support Native art and artists around the world. Mary was appointed by the South Dakota Governor to the South Dakota Arts Council, at which she is currently the first Native woman to serve as President of the Board of Directors.

Peter J. Strong has been working in the arts, culture, and museum fields for almost two decades, including in Indian Country for the last fifteen years. He has degrees in history, museum studies, and new media from Marshall University and George Mason University. Peter served as Director of The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School and Vice President of Operations and Programs for First Peoples Fund before co-founding and managing Racing Magpie in 2015 and being a founding board member and director of Magpie Creative in 2019. Peter is active in the development of Native arts programming and community leadership programs, and also served as the chair of the organizing committee for four years and was the first executive director for the Native POP: People of the Plains cultural event in Rapid City.

Ashley Hanson (she/her) is the Founder / Director of the Department of Public Transformation, an artist-led organization that collaborates with local leaders in rural areas to develop creative strategies for community connection and civic participation and PlaceBase Productions, a theater company that creates original, community-driven, site-specific musicals celebrating small town life. She was recently named a 2018 Obama Foundation Fellow and a 2019 Bush Foundation Fellow for her work with rural communities. She believes deeply in the power of uniting people, places, play and exclamation points!