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Flourish summer programs bring ag and culture together

Mon, May 23rd, 2011
Posted in Agriculture

The Dreamery Rural Arts Initiative, a not-for-profit organization based in Fillmore County with a focus on arts in rural spaces, offers two intensive programs that invite participants to explore the arts on a working small-scale farm. Flourish Summer Camp for youth, August 7-13, 2011, and the Farm Arts Retreat for all ages, July 8-10, 2011, both take place on DreamAcres Farm outside Wykoff in Fillmore County. Professional artists work intimately with participants, who spend time in the garden as much as the class. Flourish programs are supported by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council with funds from the Minnesota State Legislature.

The Flourish Farm Arts Retreat takes place over three days and offers both visual and performing arts experiences. Participants of all ages may come for one day or all three. A farm-fresh lunch, served out of Minnesota's first off-the-grid certified kitchen, is included in the workshop price. Other meals and housing are optional add-ons. Workshops in the visual arts focus on figure drawing, watercolor, and pen and ink sketches. Teaching artists for these one-day sessions are Maggie Blazing (Wykoff), Jackie Braze (Wykoff), and Emily Darnell (Duluth), respectively.

Farm Arts Retreat 2011 performing arts one-day workshops focus on dance, puppetry and vocal techniques. Teaching artists are Jane Peck (Minneapolis), who, as a dance historian, focuses on storytelling through dance; Blair Thomas (Chicago), whose vast creative experience offers a range of approaches to puppet and story creation; and Libby Turner-Opanga (St. Paul), whose background in opera, gospel and soul inspire others to grow their voices. Flourish workshop instructors are flexible and eager to work with people who possess varying skills and abilities in these art forms.

Flourish Summer Camp takes place August 7-13. It is a residential camp for youth 11-15 years of age with focus on performing arts and agriculture. Staff artists offer classes in basic performance skills, dance, voice, puppetry and music, while farm interns lead work sessions in the greenhouse and gardens. But, the core of the Flourish program is a one-on-one mentoring relationship between each participant and a staff artist. This relationship becomes the foundation for the development of original performed art that is shared in a closing performance at the end of the session.

Flourish Summer Camp director, Eva Barr, a native of Albert Lea, is a founding and active member of the 2011 Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company of Chicago. She is also a vegetable farmer on DreamAcres Farm in Wykoff, MN, homestead that becomes a rustic camp residence in July and August. Ms. Barr founded Flourish out of an interest in creating the most supportive environment for young people to say what is on their minds, and to say it however they wish. Other 2011 teaching artists, all from Minneapolis, are Truth Maze, music; Malia Burkhart, puppetry and storytelling; Mankwe Ndosi, voice; and Dustin Haug, dance.

Each Flourish session culminates in a public showcase of original student work. This summer, performances take place on Sunday, July 10 at 5pm, and Saturday, August 13 at 3pm.

Along with support from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (with funds from the Minnesota State Legislature, Flourish programs receive generous support from individuals and local businesses. Scholarships for participation in the camps may still be available. For information on artists, session dates, location and fees, go to

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