Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780935573473 Published November 2009


Edited by Charles Esche, Kerstin Niemann, and Stephanie Smith

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Edited by Charles Esche, Kerstin Niemann, and Stephanie Smith

Distributed for Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago

176 pages | 90 color plates | 8 x 10 1/2
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780935573473 Published November 2009

Throughout the vast interior of the United States, contemporary artists are responding to the world around them and reshaping it in unexpected ways. Published to coincide with an exhibition of the same name that first appeared last year in the Netherlands and will open in fall 2009 at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, Heartland offers an idiosyncratic look at innovative forms of cultural production taking place across the region.

This engaging book is part critical reader, part catalogue. Contributors—including novelist Dave Eggers, scholar Hasan Kwame Jeffries, and journalist Rebecca Solnit—explore the region through topics ranging from art to music to urban farming to political history. An illustrated section introduces over twenty artists featured in Heartland, including both established figures like Kerry James Marshall and exuberant newcomers like the group Whoop Dee Doo. An appendix surveys the lively state of independent and artist-run cultural initiatives from New Orleans to Detroit.

Produced by the Van Abbemuseum and the Smart Museum of Art, Heartland challenges expectations of place and illuminates a diverse assembly of artists who are redefining the cultural terrain of the American heartland.

TimeOut Chicago
"[The catalog] is as rich and expansive as a Midwestern breakfast buffet. Profiles of almost 30 artists and collectives . . . accompany essays about the region by Dave Eggers, Rebecca Solnit and other writers and historians."


Charles Esche and Anthony Hirschel



Charles Esche, Kerstin Neimann, Stephanie Smith


Research Travels

Kerstin Neimann: Encounters in the Heartland: Notes from the Road Trip

with blog entries, travel notes, and photographs from the curatorial team


Project Map



John Corbett and Frank Veenstra: Deep in the Heart of American Music


Joshua Decter: Art, Urban Rebuilding, Social Justice, and Sustainability: Toward a Case Study of New Orleans


Dave Eggers: Illinois


Charles Esche: A Grounded America


Hasan Kwame Jeffries: From the Black Panthers to Barack Obama: Democratic Politics in the Heartland of America


Andria Lisle: Heart of Darkness


Hesse McGraw: Mega-Life in the Midwest


Stephanie Smith: Making the World You Want to Live In


Rebecca Solnit: Detroit Arcadia: Exploring the Post-Industrial American Landscape


Matthew Strauss: Your TASTE is our PROBLEM, our TASTE is your PROBLEM:

Seventeen Days in the Provincial Gallery Simulator


Dan Wang: Translocal Movement Energy from the Upper Midwest: Michigan and



Matt Weiland: The Great Body of the Republic 


 Independent Cultural Infrastructure


Checklist of the Exhibition

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