Skip to main content

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.

See sample images from the book (PDF format, 1.0Mb).

176 pages | 90 color plates | 8 x 10 1/2

Art: Art--General Studies


"[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."

TimeOut Chicago

Table of Contents


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

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press