Our presentation provides a sneak-peek of a conference we’ve created – Home(lands): The American Heartland in Religion and Education – to be announced 02 April and set to occur 18-20 October at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in Minneapolis. It’s the first of 3 conferences over 12 months in 3 US regions (Heartland, West, South), representing a triptych (The American Frame) on Religion and Education in America. The “Home(lands)” conference constitutes not only an engagement with crucial issues within the central region of the United States at a crisis moment, it also unfolds our first attempt to refigure the academic conference format itself via the arts so as to create a new kind of gathering – one situated upon, and which seeks to creatively destabilize via embodied engagement, margins within which problematic and stagnant binaries (e.g. university/public, abstraction/materiality, humanities/sciences) remain in place. A new kind of academic conference meant to meet our perilous moment, one in which distrust of American institutions (e.g. colleges, K-12, religious centers, museums) is at its height.
Leif Bergerud is a doctoral student at Columbia University focusing on intersections of Religion & Education in America. He is currently based in New York City. Briana Smejkal holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and primarily works with sculpture, illustration, design, photography. Originally from the Black Hills (SD), Bri is currently based in Minneapolis. Sarah Heitkamp is an artist based out of rural Petersburg, ND. She received her MFA in Visual Art from the University of North Dakota where she is currently the Curatorial Assistant for their art collections.