Crystal Creek Citizen Artist 2020

“A table tells a story.” 

The Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency is excited to announce its 2020 citizen-artist-in-residence (CAIR), food explorer, Elisabeth Fondell. 

The artist is a recent transplant to Decorah, IA and will be immersing herself in the food and culture of Houston County, Minn., July through September 2020. Elisabeth will be the single CAIR joining the residency this year, with a modified program to support social distancing and protect the health of residents during the pandemic. 

“My work explores the intersection of food and culture. A table tells a story, not just a story of food, but a story of our relationship with tradition, heritage, identity, and home. Food brings people together onto common ground, both as a basic human need and as a vehicle for sharing, communing, and feasting.” Elisabeth’s work as a citizen-artist will focus primarily on growers, food producers, food service workers, restaurants, and residents of Houston County by collecting and recounting stories of culinary resilience in this unprecedented time through photographs and published stories.

Elizabeth will explore several topics related to the ways COVID-19 has changed our experiences with food. 

She’ll investigate whether we are buying more locally; the ways the Driftless region has influenced cuisine; cherished memories around meals during this time; shifts in local restaurant operation; and the experiences of food service workers. 

She’ll weave these local stories of culinary resilience through essays, poetry, photography, and more. Elisabeth’s work will be shared on various platforms following her residency. 

“While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts and endangers the lives of many around the globe, the residents of Houston County are still cooking, growing, and participating in conversations about equality in our food systems,” Elisabeth recognizes. “Whether donating locally-produced foods to neighbors in need, or supporting projects to share recipes for a regional cookbook, residents understand that food plays a major role in today’s world, not just as a means of survival, but as a tool for positive change.”

Do you live in Houston County or in the neighboring Driftless region and have a food story to share? 

In lieu of public workshops and meet and greets, Elisabeth has set up a contact page on her personal website at

She’d love to hear from you to set up a time to chat over the phone, in a Zoom call, or in person, following recommended social distancing guidelines. 

You can also submit a story, recipe, local flavor, restaurant, or product for Elisabeth to try via the website, too.

The Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency will be sharing regular updates on Elisabeth’s discoveries and travels via the residency’s facebook page:

You can also sign up for the residency’s monthly-ish newsletter by opting in at

Finally, you may contact residency coordinator, Erin Dorbin, at with any questions or partnership opportunities.


The Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency invites creative professionals from various disciplines to discover Minnesota’s Driftless region and to connect with the people and places of Houston County. 

Selected Citizen-Artists-in-Residence (CAIRS) respectively spend seven days producing new works inspired by, and in conversation with the region. 

CAIRS also share their skills with the community in a series of hands-on workshops. For 2020, our selected CAIR will be hosted remotely from their home in Decorah, IA with weekly travel in and around Houston County to soak up stories, local flavors, and landscapes.

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