Why the prairie?

True contemplation always overflows into creation — it becomes a creative act.

– Beverly Lanzetta

The hope is to establish the art center on the open prairie. This isn’t a necessity — we’ve given some serious consideration to small towns and large cities as well — but we think there are some very good reasons to do this.

The open prairie fosters a contemplative spirit. Writer Kathleen Norris said in her book Dakota:

Like all those who choose life in the slow lane — sailors, monks, farmers — I partake of a contemplative reality. Living close to such an expanse of land I find I have little incentive to move fast, little need of instant information. I have learned to trust the processes that take time, to value change that is not sudden or ill-considered but grows out of the ground of experience.

Norris, a poet, lived in Honolulu and New York City before moving back to a very remote part of South Dakota where her family was from. It was there she realized how open spaces encouraged a meditative mind, despite her metropolitan upbringing.

So what is it about open spaces or broad vistas that gets a person thinking deep thoughts? Norris suggested that the prairies remind a person of their mortality, in part because of their harsh summer and winter weathers. A writer on the Architecture + Morality blog, who goes by the moniker Corbusier, concurs:

In the country[side], we are humbled by nature, which probably explains why [we] refer to going to the countryside as a search for the ‘simpler things.’ The city does the opposite: it emboldens us. It affirms our innermost yearning to express ourselves and transcend our physical limits.

So humility results in deeper contemplation.

Welcome to the prairie.