Artist Q & A: Molly Rideout

Artists along the Farm/Art DTour are selected through a multi-step juried process. In the weeks leading up to the Fest, we will profile the ten artists from around the country selected to create large-scale art installations along the 50-mile route. We asked each of them a few questions about their work and their inspiration.


Molly Rideout is a writer from Grinnell, Iowa. Her installation, Flood, four individual but connected stories, will be installed along the Farm/Art DTour in the communities of Loganville, North Freedom, Rock Springs and Reedsburg at Map Stops No. 6, 30, 34 & 41.

Why did you decide to apply to participate in the Farm/Art DTour?

The work I do professionally down in Iowa is very similar to Wormfarm, so I have followed Fermentation Fest and the Farm/Art DTour for a few years. Sauk County is really lucky to have such a forward thinking organization so dedicated to the arts and the economic vitality of the area.

A writer who normally publishes in journals read by no one except other writers, in the last year I developed a format for sharing my writing with the public in a way that didn’t involve having to buy a journal or open a book: text on windows in public spaces. I have especially loved working with small communities around Iowa with this project and was excited about the opportunity to share this with Sauk County. I have family connections to the Reedsburg area and many childhood memories visiting Sauk County. I can’t wait to bring my work home.

What was the inspiration for your installation?

The 2008 flood affected both Wisconsin and Iowa. This spring I worked on an installation at the new Cedar Rapids Public Library, which had just opened after the last one was destroyed by floodwaters. Growing up in the Midwest, I think about floods a lot. The little ones affect my life seasonally and the large ones leave much bigger emotional watermarks. I wanted to take the opportunity to learn other people’s stories about an event that profoundly affected this part of the state.

How do you see your work aligning with the vision / goals of the overall event?

“Flood” tells the story of many places, some here in Sauk County, some farther flung, but all rural and all Midwestern. I have a saying whose effects I am constantly trying to combat: “If you make work about your home in New York, you’re a realist. If you make work about your home in the Midwest, you’re a regionalist.”

What do you hope people take away from seeing your installation?

The hidden stories of our past and the hidden stories of the land.

What challenges do you foresee in realizing your project?

Installing four works in two days will be the largest and fastest installation I’ve ever done. I’m excited for the challenge!

Anything in particular you would like people to know about you or your installation?

Four individual but connected stories will be installed in windows in four communities on the route: Reedsburg, Loganville, North Freedom and Rock Springs. You can visit the towns and read the pieces in any order. You can also take the stories home with you in a booklet for sale at the Fermentation Fest Gift Shop.

For more information about Molly and Flood visit her page on our website.