Young Country is a traveling exhibition and is organized by the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, in Wilmington, Delaware. The show opened in Louisville at the Quonset Hut and traveled to the University of the Arts’ Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery in Philadelphia from July 6-29, 2011, and the  Salisbury University Art Gallery in Salisbury, MD in Janurary of 2012.  The exhibition finds its way home to the DCCA this fall 2012 with newly added artists.

An exhibition devoted to rural themes in contemporary art, Young Country specifically examines how artists living in such “far-flung” places as Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington are re-defining ideas of “country” in America. The exhibition features artists who employ rustic imagery such as gingham, horse races, honky-tonks, and homesteads, and addresses how the visual culture of geographic regions informs individual perceptions of self and artistic expression. Beyond folk or kitsch, the works in the exhibition are often critical and conceptual in origin and generate both a humorous and sober dialogue about individual understandings of authenticity in relation to American history and place.

The Young Country exhibition probes assumptions of aesthetics, class and sophistication, and presents an alternative to common clichés of culture. With artwork that delves into the settling of the American frontiers (from Appalachia to Texas), as well as popular media constructions of identity—racial and socioeconomic, and the continued industrial exploitation of people, land, and place, Young Country initiates a dialogue about the constructs of urbanity, modernity and progress. Given our current fascination with farm-to-table fine dining, community gardens, and contemporary art exhibitions in large metropolitan areas devoted to farm related themes, for example, it is apparent that there is more to the urban attraction to rural life than meets the eye. Young Country ultimately questions the divisions between city and country, and strives to complicate our relationship to “the simple” life.

-Maiza Hixson

Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art