Arts-Based Community Development Convening
Transforming Post-Industrial Cities through Art and Innovation
April 12 through 14, 2012 - St. Louis

Brian Frink


Brian Frink PIc

Brian Frink is an artist that lives in rural, southern Minnesota.  He is also the founder of the Rural America Contemporary Art Institute, or RACAi.  Brian is also a professor of painting and drawing at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Originally from Illinois, Brian and his wife Wilbur grew up near Chicago.  From 1979 through 1984 they lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, early pioneers of that vibrant art community.  In 1985 Brian started his graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, then in 1989 he began his academic career at MSU, M.

In 1998 Wilbur and Brian purchased the Blue Earth County poor farm.  Located south of Mankato, the now named Poor Farm Studios is a nine thousand square foot building in the middle of cornfields and woods.  Brian and Wilbur have their respective studios and creative spaces here.  It is also where the RACAi headquarters are located.

Their art and their lives coexist with the rhythms of nature and the surrounding agricultural community.


Re-Thinking The Rural Arts

Day 2 / Apr, 13 @ 10:30 am
Lower Level : Room C

Rural America is undergoing a period of dramatic cultural and demographic change. Its people are poised to take agency over their own narrative, as new media is allowing for the open and decentralized sharing of stories – from next door to across the continent. In concert with this, interest in sustainable and local food systems has leant a visibility, and a cultural and economic force, to a rural landscape often relegated to distorting pastoral clichés.

These dynamic possibilities offer a moving and multi-layered metaphor for the kinds of work to be created in rural America, as artists and community members are working across disciplines to re-think and re-imagine rural America – and to make connections to their partners in urban and international locales.

This panel presents the work of four dynamic artists and community leaders who are offering a new vision for the role of the arts in rural America. By connecting across disciplines and across geographic regions, these practitioners are examples of how serious aesthetic work can also function as an engine for social change and community development.

Polly Atwell: writer, critic, and author of the novel Wild Girls (Scribner, 2013); Matthew Fluharty (moderator): poet, editor, and founder of The Art of the Rural; Brian Frink: artist, professor, and founder of Rural America Contemporary Artists; Rachel Reynolds Luster: musician, folklorist, and founder of HomeCorps; Richard Saxton: artist, professor, and founder of the M12 art collective