The Gund


Persistence: The Rural in American Art

Information About the Event

On View

Buchwald-Wright Gallery, Free Admission


Robert Colby, Curator of Academic and Interpretive Programs, with Megan Hancock, Assistant Director, Curatorial and Educational Programs and Grant Johnson ’11, Exhibitions and Programs Coordinator


Curatorial Research Team and Authors: Alea Abrams ’12 Elizabeth Bernstein ‘12 Caitlin Cook ‘12 Andrew Davenport ‘12 Maddy Foley ‘13 Madeline Gobbo ‘12 Lily Kaizer ‘12 Natalie Karic ‘12 Virginia McBride ‘15 Terence Mooney ‘12 Reina Thomas ‘14 Janet Wlody ’13 Sophia Yablon ‘12 Natalie Marsh, Director

Educational and outreach programming sponsored by: Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County

The Gund programs and exhibitions are made possible, in part, by The Gund Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.

From the 19th century to the present, rural life has continued to act as a point of return for an America constantly in flux. From the first farms of New England to the contemporary Midwest, the rural conjures images of the family farm and small town life. More than a geographic designation, ‘rurality’ is here explored as an idea, shaped and reshaped by each generation.

Whether pilgrim or pioneer the journey through the wilderness led to settlement life shaped by hope for a new beginning. Even now, the rural persona continues to define the self-sustaining ideal of American independence. Such idealism has endured, although stained as well by negative associations and prejudices assumed for the rural, from racism to ignorance, to poverty.

In the mid-1800s, 80% of the United States population lived in rural places. That number is now less than 16%. Despite, or perhaps because of this massive demographic shift, rural life has remained culturally relevant, continually reappearing in art, popular culture and consumer marketing. This exhibition combines works of varied media, artistic intention and historical periods to explore artists’ diverse engagement with the rural, as complex location of celebration, change, memory and contention.