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April 12, 2012

New art residency program focuses on sustainability

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University has announced “The Land Grant: Art, Agriculture, Sustainability,” a new annual residency program for artists whose work addresses land use, food and urban development with a focus on sustainability. A series of free community kick-off events will be held April 20-21.

Drawing on MSU’s history as a land-grant university and its strong commitment to education and global engagement, the program will support projects that educate the public and catalyze grass-roots remedies to global challenges, offering an artistic approach to “thinking globally and acting locally.” Participants will have access to thought leaders across university departments as they develop projects and acres of university land.

“Great art has always taken up the most significant issues of the artist’s day and reframed vital ideas in ways that fundamentally shift people’s awareness and perceptions of their own world,” said Michael Rush, director of the Broad/MSU. “The physical and intellectual resources available at MSU make it an extraordinary context for this kind of practice, and we are thrilled to be able to support artists creating ambitious socially and globally-minded works through the new ‘Land Grant’ residency program.”

Working at the Broad/MSU and in partnerships with various schools and institutes on campus and in the surrounding area, the awardees will develop projects that move beyond the traditional boundaries of object-based practice to investigate pressing contemporary issues and engage the public both inside the museum and across the university’s 5,200-acre campus. “The Land Grant” is organized by Alison Gass, curator of contemporary art at the Broad/MSU.

“This is a project about ‘in between spaces,’” Gass said. “Conceptually, these works exist in between art, architecture, urban development, agricultural studies, economics, political science and other disciplines. Physically, they will fill and activate the interstitial spaces we move though every day in the course of our lives.”

The first two awardees are:

  • Amy Franceschini, an artist and educator who works with notions of community, sustainability and a perceived conflict between humans and nature. Her work manifests on- and off-line in the form of dynamic websites, installations, open-access laboratories, and educational formats that collectively question or challenge the social, political and economic systems we live in. Franceschini is the founder of the Futurefarmers collaborative and co-founder of Free Soil, an international collective of artists, activists, researchers and gardeners who work together to propose alternatives to the social, political and environmental organization of space.   
  • Fritz Haeg, whose work has included gardens, public dances, educational environments, animal architecture, domestic gatherings, urban parades, temporary encampments, documentary videos, publications, exhibitions, websites and buildings. His recent projects, “Edible Estates and Sundown Schoolhouse,” have focused on two main programs, one that reclaims private property as a site for activism, the second occurring in the public arena as community outreach.

Franceschini and Haeg will speak as part of the kick-off events. View the complete schedule here.



Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.