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

Rachel Reynolds Luster

Ozarks, Missouri

Rachel Reynolds Luster Pic

Rachel Reynolds Luster is a folklorist working in the Missouri Ozarks. She’s a frequent speaker and writer on the topic of cultural sustainability and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Heritage Studies at Arkansas State University where her dissertation explores a holistic approach to rural community revitalization. She is the contributing editor for The Art of The Rural.

Rachel is the founder of HomeCorps, a program that helps rural students, after graduation, lead community recovery projects, stemming youth loss and strengthening rural areas in decline. The non-profit program offers youth a stipend to remain in their home communities for the year following graduation to work on a community restoration project of their own design with guidance from program administrators and a community mentor, strengthening youth bonds to place and community, reducing youth out-migration, and helping to revitalize communities.


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