Today we have the chance to speak with Sharon Mansur and to learn more about her recent work in 1001 Arab Futures, An intimate outdoor site-specific dance performance and visual installation that contemplates imaginative visions, past reckonings, embodied truths and other future potentials from the Arab diaspora. Sharon Mansur created this work in collaboration with Yara Boustany, Andrea Shaker, and Metta Loulou Von Kohl.
While this effort weaves through the materials, memories, and lived experiences of this Arab diaspora across generations and continents, it’s being presented in Sharon’s home community of Winona, a Mississippi River town located in southeastern Minnesota on the the traditional lands of the Oceti Šakowiŋ, Sauk, and Meskwaki peoples
Sharon Mansur is a dance and interdisciplinary experimental artist, educator, and curator. Her creative practices weave movement making, improvisation, visual environments, food, screendance, and audience participation to offer multi-sensory and immersive experiences rooted in the body, imagination, and environment.
In recent years, Sharon has received support for her work from the McKnight Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, and Springboard for the Arts – and she was a 2019 National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow. Sharon is currently the Director of The Cedar Tree Project, presenting and amplifying regional, national, and international creative voices of the Southwest Asian and North African diaspora.
Just as Sharon’s creative practice arches across many disciplines, and welcomes many individuals and audiences as collaborators, so to does her own creative path in contemporary dance extend across urban and rural communities. Thus, while, Sharon has lived in Washington DC in the aftermath of 9/11, and created work that meditates on the erasures, violence, and misunderstandings directed toward Arab individuals, her recent work has brought those opportunities for experience and exchange to the rural upper Midwest – and has opened up a space for folks beyond the city to sit more deeply, more intimately, with racial and cultural difference.
In a moment when the COVID-19 pandemic has created headlines about urban outmigration to rural areas, Sharon’s work underscores the immense potentials for sustained intercultural exchange on the local level. Just as her work supports a meditative space to sit with expanded understandings of Arab identity and diaspora, it also presents an exciting opportunity to think again about what we mean when we say “rural” or “rural art,” and how the ever-shifting movements of people and culture can enrich our understanding of how we are in relationship with others.
We are grateful for the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts in making this endeavor possible – and we welcome folks to check out and subscribe to these conversations on their favorite podcast platforms.
To learn more about Sharon Mansur's work pleases visit:
To learn more about the artists, exhibitions, and publications involved with the High Visibility initiative, please visit:
High Visibility is a longterm collaboration between Art of the Rural and Plains Art Museum: