Andrew J. Maus

Director and CEO, Plains Art Museum

As Director & CEO of Plains Art Museum, I frequently have the good fortune of being able to say that the Museum is “proud to present” something and I truly mean it every time I say or write it. However, there are some projects that are more relevant, timely, and necessary than others. That is to say, not all exhibitions carry with them the same existential purpose of bringing forth complex narratives and expanding understanding. Nor do all exhibitions reveal innovative creative practice and the diversity of lived experience in ways that bring us closer to reality than the confines of popular media or partisan politics.

High Visibility: On Location in Rural America and Indian Country is such an exhibition - a project of ambition and vision that is uncommon. Not only are we proud to present it, but we see the importance of it. Presented at a time when the reductive arguments of the “urban-rural divide” have reached fever pitch, High Visibility provides nuance, perspective, complexity, and clarity through the work of visionary and innovative artists. A large exhibition with dozens of regional and nationally-renowned artists, an expertly curated podcast and program series, High Visibility is the result of several years of planning between Plains Art Museum (Fargo, ND) and Art of the Rural (Winona, MN).

This project is also a personally satisfying one for me. Not only did I get the opportunity to help organize a vital project with my friend, Matthew Fluharty, but also because of High Visibility’s focus on contemporary art in rural spaces. I grew up in Dickinson, a small town in western North Dakota that has a population of approximately 17,000-22,000 depending on the work of the oil industry. Having been surrounded by the complex impact of fossil fuel industries, I know the importance of the work of Chris Sauter and Shanai Matteson. Growing up, I recall the widespread love for the primary cultural events in town, most notably car racing and the 4th of July derby and tractor pull. Because of this, I feel the sincerity of the work of M12 Studio. Like many rural spaces, life in Dickinson is familial and relational. Su Legatt’s work is reminiscent of my own grandmothers’, each of whom had doilies decorating their homes and bits of wisdom imparted on others. And, due to Dickinson’s proximity to Public and Sovereign Native lands, the project connects me to my personal experiences traversing the land, and learning of its complex history and present. The poignancy of the work of Athena LaTocha, Marty Two Bulls, Jr., and Cannupa Hanska Luger will forever improve my understanding of the land and its people.

It is our hope that High Visibility will allow you, too, to find connections to your lived experience and expand your understanding. This project could not have happened without the generous contributions from the artists, Art of the Rural, and Plains Art Museum team members Netha Cloeter, Steve Jacobs, Tasha Kubesh, Joseph Williams, Carol Prafcke, Cody Jacobson, Kaitlin Molden, Tessa Wick, and others. We are also deeply grateful for the generous contributions
of the Museum’s PlainsArt4All members and donors and the national grantors who saw value in the vision and purpose of this project.

High Visibility is a longterm, collaborative partnership between Art of the Rural, Plains Art Museum, and individuals & organizations across the continent. Please feel welcome to join us in this work.