Rural America Contemporary Art (RACA) is not an organization nor is it a group. RACA is an idea. It is an idea based on the premise that there are a great many serious and productive contemporary artists that live and create in the open spaces of rural America. RACA exists to promote and connect the artists of rural America.
Certainly this is not a new idea. For many years accomplished and serious artists have lived and produced their work in rural America. Every region across our nation has their artists that have created and still create strong important work. That work has then typically found an audience in cities like New York or Los Angeles.
Can rural America support, foster and delineate for itself a role in the artistic identity of this country? Certainly there is a long history of rural America informing and inspiring many of our most important artists. Throughout the Twentieth Century artists lived and worked in rural America. These artists were also responsible for some of the most important work of the Modernist movement. It can be argued that artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Marsden Hartley, John Marin or Charles Burchfield contributed to the creation of a distinctly American version of European Modernist movements. They did this by incorporating modernist concepts into an American rural landscape idiom.
So is Rural America Contemporary Art just another version of regionalism? In many ways it is. Yet there is one important difference, the Internet. The use of social media and the instant communication of our digital age provide a level of connectivity that is unique and unprecedented. Ideas, concepts, fashion and trends now move at the speed of light. An idea that once would take months or years to migrate now zips around the planet instantly. Imagine if Picasso had been able to post Les Demoiselles Avignon on Facebook or Flickr? RACA aspires to utilize this social media connectivity to create a place and to foster an aesthetic identity once again formed in rural America.
RACA is not about competing with our urban brothers and sisters. There is nothing that can replace the layered complexity of New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. Conversely, it is impossible to replace the many qualities of rural life. The rural world is comprised of complex layers describing the infinite interrelationships of humans and nature. Most of us come from a rural background. Much of what we do is in relationship to our rural past. These are memories that are embedded in our aesthetic and in the art we make and the culture we create. Rural America Contemporary Art seeks to build on our past to create a future.