Marfa Dialogues was co-founded in 2010 by Fairfax Dorn of Ballroom Marfa, a leading cultural arts center in Marfa, Texas, and Hamilton Fish of The Public Concern Foundation (PCF), a New York non-profit devoted to the advancement of public education around social and political topics. Marfa Dialogues was originally conceived as a symposium to broaden public exploration of the intersection of art, politics and culture. The first Marfa Dialogues addressed issues of the US-Mexico border region where Ballroom Marfa was founded in 2003. The symposium ran simultaneously with the Ballroom Marfa exhibition In Lieu of Unity.

In 2012, with the support of an AIC grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the second Marfa Dialogues program considered the science and culture of climate change, with Michael Pollan, Rebecca Solnit and Dr. Diana Liverman leading discussions concurrently with Carbon 13, a visual arts exhibition curated by David Buckland of Cape Farewell and presented at Ballroom Marfa.

“We found that the participation of artists in the public discussion of climate change – and in general in the public examination of all social issues – expanded the conversation and made it more accessible,” said Hamilton Fish, President of PCF and co-founder of Marfa Dialogues.

“Marfa Dialogues generated a tremendous public response in rural Texas,” said Fairfax Dorn, co-founder of Marfa Dialogues and Executive Director of Ballroom Marfa. “Our next step was to bring the project to New York, to inspire arts organizations here to engage the challenge of climate change in their work, and The Rauschenberg Foundation made that possible.”

In 2014 the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Ballroom Marfa and the Public Concern Foundation are bringing Marfa Dialogues to the St. Louis area to examine the ways in which art can serve as a catalyst for unexpected collaboration. This experiment is aligned with the Pulitzer’s current exhibition, Art of Its Own Making, which features artists who examine materials, environment, and how generative elements impact the works of art they create.

+ Explore the Marfa Dialogues archive, featuring photos, video and podcasts from the 2010 and 2012 editions, along with documentation of the In Lieu of Unity and Carbon 13 visual arts exhibitions.

+ Watch MD/STL develop by following Ballroom Marfa on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribing to the MD/STL Twitter list featuring updates from our program partners.


About Ballroom Marfa

Ballroom Marfa is a dynamic, contemporary cultural arts space that provides a lively intellectual environment where varied perspectives and issues are explored through visual arts, film, music, and performance. As an advocate for the freedom of artistic expression, Ballroom Marfa’s mission is to serve international, national, regional, and local arts communities and support the work of both emerging and recognized artists working in all media.

Ballroom Marfa is particularly interested in helping artists and curators achieve projects that have significant cultural impact but would be impossible to realize in a traditional gallery or museum setting.


Special Thanks

Marfa Dialogues is supported by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.