Minnesota artist Ashley Hanson has been named an Obama Foundation fellow — one of only 20 picked from across the world. Based in Granite Falls, Hanson works to revitalize and connect rural communities using art, conversation and, last year, a little yellow school bus. The foundation chose Hanson for its first class of fellows from more than 20,000 applicants from 191 countries, it announced last week. Those fellows "are creating transformational change on many of the world’s most pressing problems," according to a press release.
- Jenn Ross, Star Tribune, Twin Cities, MN

Minnesota Artist Ashley Hanson was selected by the Obama Foundation to join the inaugural 2018 Fellows class. Selected from more than 20,000 applicants from 191 countries, Hanson will join a two-year, non-residential program that brings together 20 leaders representing 11 countries around the world who are creating transformational change on many of the world’s most pressing problems. [...] The Dalin family recently donated a building on Prentice Street to Hanson, which she hopes to refurbish as an “artist residency and creative community gathering space.”
- Advocate Tribune, Granite Falls, MN

You can't fight city hall, but soon, you might be able to infiltrate it. That's kind of what Ashley Hanson is up to, and she has the formal approval of the powers that be in Granite Falls to do it. City Council members recently approved a proposal by Hanson to pursue funding and create an artist-in-residency project that would embed an artist in the city. [...] Suggestions range from engaging more citizens in community affairs to helping the community's young people feel more connected to the place they call home.
- Tom Cherveny, West Central Tribune, Willmar, MN

Throughout the weekend — whether during the presentations and panels, or informally over homemade soup or local beer — conversations followed threads like the relationship between a place and its people, the role of artists in small towns and rural areas, and the value of connecting rural places around the U.S. despite their differing cultures and needs.
- Colleen Powers, Creative Exchange

At each stop, the artists discussed knotty topics. The growing rift between urban and rural, of course, but also the tension between tradition and transformation. “How do we honor our traditions and keep them and preserve them,” [Ashley] Hanson said, “but also keep them alive?”
Star Tribune, Twin Cities, MN

“We’re stronger when rural and urban folks can work together,” he said. “One takeaway I hope people get in this is that rural communities are profoundly creative and resilient.”
Matthew Fluharty of Art of the Rural, Winona Daily News, Winona, MN