The Ostracon: Dispatches from Beyond Contemporary Art’s Center looks at figures and ideas outside the mainstream of contemporary art—from public policy, indigenous rights, and folklore to community organizing, historic preservation, environmental science, journalism, and food justice—that may offer insight into new forms of making art that are more responsive, relevant, and connected to the way we live now as individuals and communities. Taking its name from the pottery shards used in ancient Athens when voting to ostracize community members, the site aims to celebrate, instead of push out, voices from art’s periphery. 

Paul Schmelzer is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor. Focused on the intersection of art and social change, he has written for outlets including Adbusters, Art 21,, Art in America, Hyperallergic, the Huffington Post, Ode magazine, the Progressive, Raw Vision, and the Utne Reader, among others. He has contributed to books, including Ficciones Typografika: 1642 (Formist Editions, 2019), Collecting on the Edge (Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, University of Utah, 2018), and Land, Art: A Cultural Ecology Handbook (Royal Society of Arts, 2006). For sixteen years, he has worked as an editor at the Walker Art Center, where he manages the Walker Reader digital publication. From 2003 to 2015, he authored the blog Eyeteeth: A Journal of Incisive Ideas, which explored the terrain where art, community, and activism overlap.

Nicole J. Caruth is an independent curator and writer whose work examines place and identity. She works with contemporary artists in gallery contexts and public spaces, organizing exhibitions including The Grace Jones Project, Fallen Fruit: Power of People, Power of Place, Derrick Adams: Crossroad—A Social Sculpture, and, most recently, Build Better Tables, a temporary public art exhibition commissioned by Metro Arts: Nashville Office of Arts and Culture. Her writing has been published in ARTnews, C magazine, Gastronomica, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Public Art Review, and the Phaidon Press volumes Vitamin Green and Vitamin D2. Caruth earned her bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University and her master’s degree at the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies.