The Tallgrass Artist Residency is a program of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission centered in the small community of Matfield Green, Kansas near the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. We work with local organizations to house artists and host events in addition to collaborating with other partners throughout the Flint Hills region.

The Tallgrass Prairie

Though only a fraction of the unique tallgrass ecosystem remains, the prairie has been instrumental in constructing a narrative and identity of the North American Midwest. Given the prairie’s geographic location, this vast sea of grass has remained significant to the people’s who have occupied it. From first nation communities to European settlers, this vast sea of grass has proved to be an invaluable resource to cities as far apart as Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, and Dallas. Urban communities have continually relied on prairie resources to establish themselves, as well as the many farming and ranching communities of the Midwest that support the majority of the country’s agricultural production.

Historic Prairie Regions Map from Flint Hills Map Project
Flint Hills Map from Symphony in the Flint Hills

Residency Team

Kelly Yarbrough,
Lead Administrator

Kelly Yarbrough started the Tallgrass Artist Residency in 2016 while pursuing her MFA in Drawing at Kansas State University. Currently based in Manhattan, Kansas, Kelly works for the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission as a regional representative, artist residency consultant and art & ecology program specialist in addition to pursuing her personal studio practice.

Katherine & Derek Hamm,
On-site Residency Managers

Katherine and Derek Hamm took over management of The Bank Art Space in 2016 in time to host the first Tallgrass Artist Residency Group Exhibition and have helped manage the program since. They both grew up in central Kansas, work as graphic designers, and love sharing the experience of living in the prairie through hosting artists.


Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC)

The Tallgrass Artist Residency is a partner program of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC) which, “is focused on the creative industries sector of the Kansas economy. The Commission is dedicated to measuring, promoting, supporting and expanding the creative industries to grow the state’s economy and create creative industry-related jobs.”

Matfield Station, Bill & Julia McBride

Artists stay at Matfield Station during their residency in their own casita with kitchen, private bathroom, and communal porch. Owners Bill and Julia McBride worked with a local team to restore the historic Santa Fe Railroad building that was “one good rain away” from collapse, and converted it into three comfortable and cozy guest rooms. Bill and Julia are gracious hosts and ardent supporters of contemporary art in Matfield Green.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City offers space and support for artists’ public programs during their residencies. Knowledgable staff and volunteers are also a great resource to learn from about tallgrass ecology and the preserve’s many unique features, including a herd of about 100 bison.

The School for Rural Culture & Creativity

Housed in the 1938 Matfield Green Grade School building, “The School” is a developing space for community, art, agriculture, and ideas for a place-based life. The School hosts the Tallgrass residency’s annual fall group exhibition and artist talks.

Matfield Green Works

Matfield Green Works connects people to the Earth and each other through art and prairie. The non-profit was an early supporter of the residency, hosting the annual group exhibition at the Bank Art Space — now closed for construction of a new gallery and visitor’s center in 2023. Matfield Green Works welcomes visitors to a series of summer events and contributes to the residency’s fall events by organizing open studios of local artists.