Amy Franceschini

The UW–Madison Division of the Arts welcomed Amy Franceschini as the spring 2016 Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence.

Amy Franceschini of Futurefarmers is a social artist and designer who explores the perceived conflict between nature and culture through public art pieces.

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About the Artist

Amy Franceschini is a social artist and designer who facilitates encounters and encourages exchanges and tactile inquiry through temporary and permanent public art. An overarching theme in her work is a perceived conflict between nature and culture and the contradictions inherent in this divide. Her projects challenge systems of exchange and the tools we use to hunt and gather. They allow an audience to not only imagine but also participate in and initiate change in the places we live.

Amy received her BFA from San Francisco State University in photography and her MFA from Stanford University. She has taught in the visual arts graduate programs at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and Stanford University. Amy is the recipient of the Artadia, Cultural Innovation, Eureka Fellowship, Creative Capital, Guggenheim Fellowship and SFMOMA SECA Awards.

In 1995, Amy founded Futurefarmers, an international collective of artists, activists, researchers, farmers, scientists and architects working together to propose alternatives to the social, political and environmental organization of space. Their design studio serves as a platform to support art projects, an artist in residence program and their research interests. Futurefarmers uses various media to deconstruct systems of food, public transportation and education to visualize and understand their intrinsic logics. They have created temporary schools, books, bus tours and large-scale exhibitions internationally. In September 2015, Amy and Futurefarmers were announced as finalists for the prestigious Artes Mundi 7.

Futurefarmers’ Flatbread Society

Futurefarmers’ Flatbread Society is a permanent public art project created on a waterfront development in Oslo, Norway. Formed in 2012, Flatbread Society has resulted in the formation of an urban gardening community called Herligheten, a Declaration of Land Use and a permanent grain field and bakehouse. The group’s dynamic activation of the site through public programs, a bakehouse and a cultivated grain field has attracted the imagination of farmers, bakers, oven builders, artists, activists, soil scientists and city officials. Flatbread Society has grown beyond Oslo into a network of projects and people that use grain as a starting point to examine food production, knowledge sharing, cultural development and socio-political formation.

Seed Journey

An outgrowth of Flatbread Society, Seed Journey is a seafaring voyage that moves people, ideas and seeds through time and space. This voyage of crew and cargo will transport varieties of unpatented ancient grains, recently discovered in Oslo, back to the Fertile Crescent, where agriculture originated. Various stops on the route will allow the travelers to meet leading actors of the food commons movement – anthropologists, artists, chefs, farmers, microbial ecologists and writers – to collect and exchange seeds and to rotate crew members. Actors from various stops can join a segment of the journey as it relates to their work, allowing for cross-pollination between movements and cultural exchange among the actors. At its final destination, Seed Journey will dismantle a boat and reassemble the parts into a permanent seed library and an open-air-theater titled Seed Theater.

Flatbread Society is part of the Slow Space public art program, a curatorial vision conceived by Claire Doherty and commissioned and produced by Bjørvika Utvikling in collaboration with the artists.


media sponsor

The Amy Franceschini residency is sponsored by the UW-Madison Arts Institute and is hosted by the Art Department, with Assistant Professor Meg Mitchell as lead faculty. Her residency is co-sponsored by the Departments of Design StudiesHorticulture and Community and Environmental Sociology. Flatbread Society and Seed Journey partners include Slow Space/Bjørvika UtviklingHenie-Onstad Art Centre and Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS).

The UW-Madison Arts Institute has hosted world-class artists in residence since 1995 and formally launched the Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program (IARP) in 1999. The IARP is made possible by funding from the university’s Office of the Provost.

Guest Artists

Joe Riley* is an artist, a printer and a Master of Yachts 200-on Offshore Limited Mate. His work locates tangible, material experience at the intersection of history and storytelling and along the fringes of public space. Riley has biked atop abandoned railroads in the United States, paraded a mobile radio network in Ukraine and helped organize the longest student-led occupation in United States history while studying at Cooper Union. He has been faculty at Bruce High Quality Foundation University, a resident at Izolyatsia and a collaborator with Futurefarmers. Riley teaches boatbuilding in Brooklyn, NY public schools and letterpress printing and metalworking at Cooper Union.

Multimedia artist Stijn Schiffeleers* uses film, video and interactive installations to reveal the subtleties of life. His work embodies a sense of play and sensitivity that remind us to take a closer look at what surrounds us. He has been seen most recently soaring above the streets of San Francisco in a canoe mounted to the top of the Futurefarmers Volvo.

Michael Swaine is an inventor and designer working in many media. He is known as the analog designer of Futurefarmers and has collaborated with the studio since 1997. Swaine’s ongoing project Free Mending Library is a library for fixing the holes in our lives – a place to borrow thread and sewing machines and talk about life. This project began as part of Reap What You Sew Generosity Project, which involved Swaine pushing an old-fashioned ice cream style cart on wheels with a treadle-operated sewing machine on it through the streets of San Francisco. He received his BFA from Alfred University in ceramics and his MA in design from UC Berkeley. Currently, Swaine is teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Resources + Media Mentions 

Course: Art 469
Topic Title: Ecology of Research: Seeds of Time
Instructor: Amy Franceschini, Spring 2016 Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence
UW Instructor of Record: Meg Mitchell, Art Department
Day/Time: Fridays 1:45-4:15pm
Location: Humanities 6321
Limit: 16
Credits: 3
Prerequisite: None

Description: Franceschini’s course will focus on interdisciplinary research. It will use a seafaring journey, Seed Journey, to direct research and guide a series of projects. Together the class will research locations, partners and logistics as they relate to Seed Journey. This course will also include a short history of interdisciplinary art focused on art in public places. It will address issues of audience, form, media, motivation and co-creation as it relates to making artwork that falls within the genre of social practice. Topics such as aesthetics, ethics, collaboration, media strategies and social activitsm will be covered through small projects and readings. Students will work independently and collaboratively with various departments on the UW-Madison campus as well as community groups in order to create a final public event: Flatbread Society Seed Journey.


  • Watch a highlights video of Amy Franceschini’s Interdisciplinary Arts Residency during Spring 2016.
  • Check out thisphoto album from the final event of Amy’s residency, Seeds of Time.
  • Amy Franceschini will appear on WORT FM‘s 8 O’Clock Buzz on Monday, April 11! Tune in live or click here for a podcast of the interview.
  • Artwork made during Amy’s residency will be featured in group exhibitions at both Henie Onstad, Norway (June 9 – August 21, 2016) and ARtes Mundi, Cardiff, Wales (October 21, 2016 – February 26, 2017).
  • Congratulations to Amy and Futurefarmers for being shortlisted for the prestigious Artes Mundi 7, the United Kingdom’s leading biennial art prize!
  • The final event of the residency will be held on April 22, 2016 at 6:30 pm. Please note that seating is limited.


Artist Talk with Amy Franceschini

February 3rd @ 4:30 pm5:45 pm CST
Art Department Visiting Artists Colloquium
Room L160, Elvehjem Building | 800 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706 United States 

Artist Talk with Michael Swaine

February 10th @ 4:30 pm  – 5:45 pm CST
Art Department Visiting Artists Colloquium
Room L160, Elvehjem Building | 800 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706 United States 

Madison Area Network for Innovation and Collaboration (MANIAC) Lunchtime Talk

March 3rd @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm CST
Symphony Room, Gordon Commons
770 W. Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53706 United States 

UW-MANIAC (Madison Area Network for Innovation and Collaboration) is a dynamic partnership of University and community people who are creatively exploring the possibilities of a network focused on sparking creative, innovative practices in our workplace.

Flatbread Society Seed Journey

April 22 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm CST
Gates of Heaven, 302 East Gorham Street
Madison, WI 53703  United States 

This final event will include a public presentation of the map, broadsides and individual research that students have worked on independently and collaboratively with various departments on the UW-Madison campus as well as community groups.

Seeds of Time at the Gates of Heaven provides a window into the range of topics explored during the semester long course that Amy taught. Students worked individually and collaboratively to create an arc of experiences that express their personal research as it relates to Seed Journey. Each component of the night will be a curated walk-through and participation of the student’s presentations. Student’s performance exhibitions include: a choreographed square dance, kneading bread, information on seed origins and use, and water testing.