“What does it mean to be a sliver of land unscraped by glaciers in the flat fertile Midwest? What stories will I find in the soil? What will I learn about myself and the land?” Rachael Button, a writer and place-based educator, will begin answering — and posing — these questions as the second 2018 Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist at the end of July.
This marks the second year for the Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency, based just outside of Houston in Mound Prairie. Unlike many artist residencies that simply offer a quiet place in which to work, the CAIR program encourages their artists to “be curious, ask questions, stop and have conversations.” This ensures a resulting body of work informed by Houston County itself, which provides unique perspectives on the area to both residents and outsiders.
Continuing its partnership with the Houston Arts Resource Council (HARC) for the second year, the residency welcomed architectural designer Miranda Moen last month, and will be hosting food artist and chef Peter Kraus — who also happens to be Button’s husband — in August.
Kraus grew up near Decorah, Iowa, and the couple have just moved back to his family’s organic farm this summer. Button, for her part, grew up in Detroit, and before moving to northeast Iowa, Button and Kraus explored a great deal. “My husband and I have lived on the border of a wilderness area in Washington’s North Cascades, worked on an organic farm in Maine, road-tripped across Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia, and hiked 180 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. However, when we talk[ed] about putting down roots, we imagine[d] returning to his family’s organic farm in Decorah, Iowa.”
The decision to move to her husband’s home farm is not one made lightly, and during her residency in Houston County, Button would like to continue to explore it in her writing. “What do I surrender by living on my partner’s family’s farm instead of returning to my own home-state or forging a future in land unfamiliar to us both? I want to find things about the land to identify with and things in the land to grapple with.”
Having moved around a good deal in her adult life thus far, Button is eager to explore the idea of perhaps putting down some roots. “I see this residency as an opportunity to explore the Driftless region and my “driftless” nature through poems, essays, and stories. It is my hope this writing will help me begin to map my way back ‘home.’” And in exploring her new surroundings through writing, Button also hopes to help community members find their own words. “I’m excited to be a part of helping the Houston County community put words to the unique identity of their region.”
Button will be in Houston County from July 29 until August 4, 2018. She is hosting a Meet & Greet on Tuesday, July 31, 6-7 p.m., at the KARST Driftless Guidepost (111 Cedar St., Houston, Minn.), and a creative writing Community Workshop, “Writing Our Way Home,” on Thursday, August 2, 5-7 p.m. at the Caledonia Public Library (231 E Main St., Caledonia, Minn.). Both events are free and open to the public; pre-registration is required for the workshop. To register, please contact Residency Coordinator Erin Dorbin at email@example.com, or visit www.crystalcreekcitizenartist.com.
About Houston Arts Resource Council
HARC is a 507 (c)(3) non-profit organization, established to promote the arts, artists, and artisans of the Houston, Minnesota area.