Creative commitments: Place-based art as expression and catalyst for rural identities and sustainability
The relationship of communities with the landscapes they inhabit and the influence of this relationship on culture, identity, and knowledge systems have been studied in depth in the field of cultural geography. This relationship tends to be particularly poignant for rural communities for whom the natural environment is perceived as more inextricably interconnected with their livelihoods. Creativity has also been studied as an expression of identity through which communities express their sense of place and identity while also fostering these relationships. This is possible because the arts and creative expressions have a unique way to embody knowledge and value systems, as well as a community’s hopes for change. Building on concepts such as performance theory, and community assets, this presentation will explore the role of the arts in processes of knowledge mobilization for social justice as connected to a community’s relationship with their landscape. Drawing upon primary research carried out by the author engaging peasant and Indigenous communities in rural Nicaragua, this presentation will explore the role of visual arts and music as expression and builder of the communities’ critical engagement with their landscapes and the social and environmental repercussions of these processes. The presentation will conclude by offering connections to policy and practice based on the lessons learned from this research.