Upcoming Symposium co-sponsored by the Inland Center:
Discovering their work, telling their stories, learning from the past

Project: Inland Visual Studies Center

The Inland Visual Studies Center represents Illinois and surrounding states as not only the geographic nucleus, but a collaborative research project that promotes and enhances the region’s growing reputation as a hub of creative production.  The Inland Visual Studies Center’s (IVSC) mission is committed to the theorizing of a more authentic and complex cultural identity of Middle America and by extension a nation that is ill-conceived as artistically homogeneous or monolithic. The Center circulates extended narratives from its cultural history that are indigenous to the geography of middle America.

The IVSC is particularly focused on art and design that recognizes the unique environmental character of the region and/or have addressed its historical and physical space. We embrace architecture and design, including their subsets – landscape architecture and industrial design, in defining where we dwell and the contextualization of our work. We emphasize the importance of thinking about artistic practice influenced by cultural zoning. Just as the nation is made up of multiple climatological zones that contribute to worldwide agricultural health there are heterogeneous cultural zones with visual dialects that respond critically and productively to national and global culture.

Numerous Midwesterners  broke from the past and dramatically influenced the physical space that Americans inhabit and work. Our symposia, artists in residence, speakers, catalogues and exhibitions positively and proportionally define the visual production of a geographic center in relation to a national and global dialogue on culture. The Center represents the diversity of experiences and shared dialogues of the Midwest.  It examines how inland visual culture has contributed to advances in national culture. The Center is designed to attract students who see the value of an independent, regionally influenced voice that is progressive and cognizant of history.  The Center is a resource for students, scholars, and artists who recognize the significance of charting the complexity of an inland cultural identity.

A comprehensive study of the Midwest’s various interrelated indigenous traditions contribute to a fuller understanding of the American identity. It also allows the region to refocus on visual elements that inform design, architecture and ideas that have proven useful for the advancement of concepts in manufacturing as well as art that can have real social and economic impact.  Our aim is to trace vital patterns of imagery and productivity that recur when individuals acknowledge the fertile foundation of time and place

The Inland Center partners with the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis and the Art Department at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Our programs, which are open to the public, were featured in an exhibition catalogue titled “Heartland” published by the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago and the Van Abbemuseum in Holland in 2009.