2016 Island Notes

The combination of good weather, extraordinary residents and inspiring visitors provided an incredible residency season for 2016. Here’s a recap:

– 2016 Residents F. Daniel Rzicznek, Walter van Broekhuizen, Luce Choules, and the three-person collective comprised of Jack Forinash, Kelly Gregory, and Mary Rothlisberger, were prolific in their work. Highlights include the completion of an epic collection of poems, a number of temporary installations documented via drawing and photography, field experiments, and performances which will be used to create new work for the 2017 exhibition, and a comprehensive collection of data—both of the measurable and ephemeral—related to island life. The island’s journal also saw it’s pages grow as residents documented subtleties of daily life in real time.

– The first year of “Island Talks” went well and we hope to build on this success in the future. Island Talks are our series of informal presentations by resident artists and founders where we invite members of the public to visit the island and experience the residency firsthand. Weather prohibited attendance for a few of the talks, but two were very well attended and received. (Always Respect the Lake.)

– It was a stellar summer of foraging berries and mushrooms. Wild blueberries did best, followed by a respectable showing of raspberries. We also added to our local mushroom knowledge and enjoyed cooking several boletus variants.

– A talented woodworking duo consisting of Tom Bonamici and Anthony Zollo spent time on the island creating furniture for the sauna building and main camp. They were later joined by Michael P. Getz who assisted them in constructing a traditional timber frame structure in Rabbit Bay which will serve as a mainland “Ranger Station” beginning next year.

– Dancer/choreographer Nic Collie and filmmaker Chelsy Mitchell joined us for a week to collaborate on a new video piece that will be completed later this year. Nicola created a series of movements especially for the island's Perch installation situated in the trees along the south ridge. Some incredible underwater movements were also captured.

– Fishing was excellent this year. Neighbors in the bay had some nice catches and we were able to bring in several steelhead, over 40 prized lake trout (mostly caught and released), eight coho salmon, and even a few king salmon that were hanging around Keweenaw Bay this summer.

– Rabbit Island School 2016 continued our annual art and ecology program with high school students in fine style. Record-breaking saunas, countless swims, surfing, cliff jumping, spoon carving, fishing, photographing, art and music making, dancing, campfire chats, foraging, and an incredible back-to-back display of the northern lights are just a few items on a long list of good times. This year the program was supported by a New Leaders Grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

– During the whirlwind tour of State of the Union, an opera composed on Rabbit Island in 2015, members of Helsinki Chamber Choir visited the island on their one day off. We recorded a few special moments as the choir sang at The Amphitheater, a forested clearing in front of a large upturned root at the center of the island.

We’d like to say thank you to all involved this summer and to those who support our project from afar. As we unpack the beautiful documentation and stories that were experienced this year we will continue to share details in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

October 13, 2016