A Collaboration of The Volland Store Gallery and the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art
at Kansas State University
A Biennial Residency in the Flint Hills of Kansas
Prairie Studies is a term the Beach Museum of Art has used since 2013 as an umbrella for public programs and exhibitions that bring together knowledge about this place – the Flint Hills and tallgrass prairie – from a variety of perspectives. Scientists, farmers, artists, poets, historians, and ranchers have all contributed to initiative programs. Meanwhile, the Volland Store Gallery in Alma, Kansas, has pursued a similar vision since opening in 2015. The two organizations, the museum and the gallery (the Volland Foundation), have agreed to join their efforts in a collaboration named the Prairie Studies Institute.
The Prairie Studies Institute will host biennial residencies that allow experts working in different fields to share information and creative discoveries.
We envision hosting residents and speakers simultaneously within a given time period, each from a different discipline, but having related or intersecting interests, and hailing from around the country and the world. Our mission is to create opportunities for creative thinkers and makers to juxtapose and exchange knowledge of the prairie and the Flint Hills and inspire one another to reach beyond their own areas of expertise. We envision connecting visual and performing artists, writers, musicians, scientists, and historians and letting the program generate unexpected conversations and perspectives about the prairie’s ecosystems, natural history, and cultural richness.
Every Prairie Studies Institute biennial program will engage the community and build connections through a variety of activities, such as artist and scholar residencies, talks, readings, performances, installations, exhibitions, and publications, and vary according to the interests and abilities of the program participants. In this way the program will serve as an ever-changing mirror that reflects aspects of the region with due regard for their complexity, uniqueness, and larger relevance. A natural effect of the public events will be to contribute new perspectives to regional audiences.
Every two years leaders at the Museum and the Volland Foundation will consider and invite two or three PSI program participants from different disciplines. The choices are invitational, rather than the result of application or competition, and made with consideration of themes covered over time. When feasible, other collaborations may be sought among organizations with relevant missions and interests.
Residents will receive lodging, a stipend they may apply to cover travel and meals, a suitable place to work, and necessary support for public events, such as talks, performances, or exhibitions. Residencies may be continuous for up to four weeks, or broken into segments as negotiated in advance. Lodging and work space for residents will be provided at Volland. Programming will occur at Volland and at the Marianna Kistler Beach Art Museum at K-State.
Photos by Patty Reece
The first PSI residents arrived in October 2019.
Artist Zhang Hongtu (Brooklyn, NY) and photojournalist Jim Richardson (Lindsborg, KS, and citizen of the world) spent time together discussing their work- past, present, and future. Visits to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Bedrock Art Editions in Kansas City, Flint Hills Stone in Alma, Kansas, and a fly-over of the Flint Hills arranged by Richardson deepened their knowledge, enriched their experiences, and provided inspiration for future and ongoing work.
For information on the artists, please click here.
Through the following public programs, Zhang and Richardson discussed their interest in the tallgrass prairie in terms of ecology, agriculture, and culture.
Sunday, October 6 | 2 pm
Jim Richardson and Zhang Hongtu in conversation with the exhibition Hungry Heartland
The Volland Store Gallery
Thursday, October 10 | 5:30 pm
“New Yorker on the Prairie”
Talk by Zhang Hongtu
Beach Museum of Art
Monday October 14 | 4 pm
Public Conversation: The Anthropocene Prairie
Jim Richardson, Zhang Hongtu, and 2019 Gardiner Lecturer Dennis Dimick
101 Thompson Hall, Kanas State University (next to the Beach Museum of Art)