M12 from Byers, Colo. to Venice Biennale to NEA Our Town Grant Recipient
It’s fair to say the art collective known as M12 is on a roll. Based in Denver and Byers, Colo. the collective has been invited to participate in the 13th International Venice Architectural Biennale and was just awarded a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant to support the design and implementation of a collaborative project with Swedish art collective Kultivator titled “Gran’s University: Ornaments of Knowledge” in Last Chance, Colo.
Below is quoted from a recent M12 press release:
As part of M12’s arts program “Action on the Plains: Contemporary Art in Rural Environments” which is an ongoing rural civic engagement initiative, the M12 organization, citizens of Washington County, and the Swedish art collective Kultivator will present, “Gran’s University: Ornaments of Knowledge.” Gran’s University is an artwork inspired by Mrs. Vendana Shiva who in 2003 started the Grandmothers University in Navdanya, North India. The aim of the Grandmothers University is to both celebrate and validate the wisdom of our grandmothers, as well as transmitting this to future generations. Members of Kultivator and M12, motivated by this act of sharing generational knowledge have developed the Gran’s University project to build an archive of rural cultural exchanges based on the knowledge of pioneer women. This artwork and cultural exchange can serve as a catalyst for building long-term dialogue about the importance of rural cultural initiatives that specifically address important global issues such as; environmental sustainability; global economies coexisting with local economies; food production; and the ever diversification of the social landscape in remote regions.
“We are honored to accept this award and to have the opportunity to cultivate a long-term collaboration, and learning community, between contemporary artists and the people of Washington County. The landscape of rural America is changing; it’s becoming ethnically diverse at a faster rate than America’s cities while, at the same time, building deep connections with these urban areas. This ‘Our Town’ grant will undoubtedly enrich community life in Byers and Last Chance, but it will also serve to expand this sense of our common ground, and our shared responsibility to this region.” —Matthew Fluharty, M12 Board of Directors and Founder of ‘Art of the Rural’
M12′s Campito Project, which was featured at the Biennial of the Americas in Denver, was selected for Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good, the official exhibition presented at the U.S. Pavilion for the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale organized by the Institute for Urban Design. Again, we quote from their press release:
M12’s project, Campito, explores inventive designs for a mobile dwelling unit based on the experiences and activities of the contemporary sheepherder in the American West. A series of conceptual designs for contemporary sheep wagons designed by M12, explore the dualistic qualities of the sheep wagon—freedom and standardization, art and science, structure and spontaneity, and the vast nature of perpetual unresolved conflicts of cultural heritage and human treatment. Each conceptual design includes the addition of a solar energy platform, a composting toilet and heated shower, global communications system, fire escape, and a portable garden for fresh vegetables.
Additionally, M12 founder and creative director Richard Saxton is currently presenting an exhibition called The Majestics at Epicenter in Green River, Utah.
The Majestics explores notions of mobility, adaptability, and utopia, while at the same time projects feelings of isolation, loss, loneliness, and tranquility. This new exhibition at Epicenter explores landscape, the built environment, history, and regional identity. The work questions the many forces at play in the American West today: human habitation, vernacular structures and remote geography, the function of the built landscape, the romance and reality of the West, utopian ideas of coexisting with, and preserving nature, and the harsh realities of social-economic conditions in the 21st century rural West.