Tuesday, October 13

New Middles: Arts and Community was a roundtable conversation between architect and urban designer Paola Aguirre, artist-writer-researcher Matthew Fluharty and artist and design strategist De Nichols. These experts discusssed how arts spaces and cultural organizations are shaping the future of the middle—rural, urban, and points in-between. As communities across the middle reckon with legacies and presents marked by white supremacy and structural racism, including Jim Crow–era monuments, how can speculation through art and design help people envision equitable civic spaces? How have in the past and how will in the future diverse groups of neighborhoods, communities, and individuals come together through art, design, and creativity?

Paola Aguirre
Borderless Studio, Chicago IL

Matthew Fluharty
Art of the Rural & M12 Studio, Winona MN

De Nichols
Civic Creatives, St. Louis MO

Moderated by Anne Surak
Director, Exhibit Columbus

Paola Aguirre Serrano is founder of BORDERLESS, a Chicago-based collaborative urban research and design practice. Serrano focuses on multidisciplinary exchange, city systems integration, and participatory civic processes focused on social equity by leveraging her experience working with public, civic, and private organizations in Mexico and the United States. Also an educator, Serrano has taught at Archeworks, Sam Fox School of Design at Washington University, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Serrano received a Masters of Architecture in Urban Design from the Harvard School of Design.

Matthew Fluharty is the Director of Art of the Rural, a member of M12 Studio, and the Co-Director of the American Bottom Project focused on the East St. Louis floodplain region. He is currently a Curatorial Fellow with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts as he curates the long-term exhibition and publication project High Visibility: On Location in Rural America and Indian Country.

De Nichols is a design activist, social worker, and international lecturer. Nichols mobilizes creative change makers to address racial injustices within the built environment through the production of interactive experiences, digital media, and social initiatives. She serves as the Principal of Design and Social Impact at the Civic Creatives consultancy in St. Louis, MO, and she is a current Transnational Fellow with Monument Lab and the Goethe Institut. Nichols is a co-organizer of the national Design As Protest initiative.


Next Progressive: Borderless Studio. (2019, November 4). Architect Magazine.

Meet Six Civic Artists Creating Change With Paint. (2020, July 20). Socially Driven Magazine.

Can The Arts Save Rural America From The Recession?. (2020, August 15). OZY.

Matthew Fluharty. The American Bottom. (2020, August 25). Anthropocene Curriculum.

Jennifer Colton and Matthew Fluharty. Monsanto Town. (2020, August 25). Anthropocene Curriculum.

Thursday, October 15

How might community-led cultural initiatives bring people together today and meaningfully improve tomorrow’s civic life? Featuring Miller Prize recipients Ann Lui and Craig Reschke of Future Firm and Sam Jacob of Sam Jacob Studio in discussion with community members Jadon Darnell, Austin Lewis, Jessica Schnepp, and Kate Thomas this conversation highlighted the ways that grassroots creative networks, Friends of the Crump Theater and NOMAD, are at the front lines of preserving cultural arts spaces, and creating platforms that amplify voices and foster creativity as community assets.

Ann Lui and Craig Reschke
Future Firm, Chicago IL

Sam Jacob
Sam Jacob Studio, London, England

Jadon Darnell, Austin Lewis, and Kate Thomas
NOMAD, Columbus IN

Jessica Schnepp
Friends of Crump Theatre, Columbus IN

Moderated by Bryony Roberts
Bryony Roberts Studio, New York NY

Jessica Schnepp
is the Community Development Coordinator for the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation whose mission is to promote awareness and philanthropy for programs that help students achieve educational excellence in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation. She was the Fundraising Coordinator for The Linden Project, a community led effort for Lincoln Elementary School (Gunnar Birkerts, 1966) that built an architectural based playground inspired by Birkerts' original vision for the site. Jess has now turned her experience to support revitalizing The Crump Theatre, and helping build community enthusiasm around a much needed arts and entertainment venue in downtown Columbus.

Kate Thomas is a multidisciplinary artist from Columbus, Indiana. Throughout high school she helped organize Nomad Art, which is a music venue and mini art gallery that promotes and prioritizes young artists. Since then she has been an intern at 411 Gallery and studied furniture design at Kendall College of Art and Design.

Bryony Roberts is an architectural designer and scholar. Her New York-based practice Bryony Roberts Studio integrates methods from architecture, art, and preservation to address complex social conditions in the public realm. Her practice has been awarded the Architectural League Prize and the Rome Prize, as well as support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony. She edited the book Tabula Plena: Forms of Urban Preservation and recently guest-edited an issue of Log titled “Expanding Modes of Practice.” Roberts teaches architecture and preservation at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in New York.


Future Firm, Rebel Garages (CAF, 2019)

Nick Axel, Nikolaus Hirsch, Ann Lui, and Mimi Zeiger, Dimensions of Citizenship (Inventory Press, 2018)

Gediminas Urbonas, Ann Lui, and Lucas Freeman, Public Space? Lost and Found (The MIT Press, 2017)

Sam Jacob, Make it Real: Architecture as Enactment (Strelka Press, 2014)

Charles Jencks, Sean Griffiths, Charles Holland, and Sam Jacob, Radical Post-Modernism (Academy Press, 2011)