2018 Island Notes

Our 2018 season was a memorable one. Three incredible artists-in-residence each spent time in dedicated exploration of the island and their practices. The weather was generally favorable June through September, punctuated by a few intense storms that changed the landscape on the mainland. Island talks, visitations from long-time collaborators, wonderful fishing, and exhibitions and events on the mainland rounded off a successful program year.

– Our awarded residents were Alice Pedroletti, Calvin Rocchio, and Duy Hoàng. At nearly a month on average, their time in residence was some of the longest in our program’s history. That time offered an incredible amount of understanding of the island’s environment and camp life. As a result a prolific amount of research and work was created.

– Calvin and Duy’s residencies overlapped for two weeks in late August to mid September. The overwhelmingly positive feedback on having simultaneous residencies gives us some exciting ideas and possibilities for the future.

– We hosted two Island Talks this summer, boating over 20 visitors for day trips to meet the residents in person, share a meal, and participate in workshops or group explorations of the island.

– When opening up camp, several trees—including one of the white pines at the main landing—had been felled by strong storms in the autumn and winter of 2017. After a lot of labor, our firewood situation for the 2019 season looks very good.

– The resident bald eagles were healthy and active. While no new chicks were spotted this year, several yearlings and juveniles were seen visiting the nest.

– Evidence of a beaver visiting the island this spring or early summer was obvious around the perimeter of the island. Many small, shoreside aspen trees had been cut down. It is unknown if the beaver is living on the island.

– The ongoing biological study of our red-backed vole population continued. Having so few natural predators on the island has resulted in unique differences to the mainland vole groups also being studied. Interestingly, that may have changed this year with high likelihood of a weasel or ermine now being present. Sighted by Alice in late June, a scat sample was collected a few weeks later and confirmation is pending lab tests.

– Fishing was good, with the best results coming at dawn and dusk. The native lake trout of Keweenaw Bay and surrounding waters was frequently on the menu, but an occasional coho salmon also took our lures.

– Long-time island collaborator and Rabbit Island School mentor Christina Mrozik visited the island in July, helping represent our activities at the annual Farm Block Festival on the mainland. Christina will be returning as a mentor next year as we restructure Rabbit Island School to focus on opportunities for local young leaders.

– On the mainland, our inaugural exhibition of the Rabbit Island Collection was hosted by the nearby Finlandia University Gallery. The exhibition featured 13 artists and 20 exemplary works donated by former residents and collaborators. The opening was a great success and included a thoughtful artist talk by Calvin Rocchio who had just come off the island. Calvin also conducted a workshop with students at Finlandia’s International School of Art & Design.

– Our partnership with the DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University in Marquette also continued. 2017 residents Jasmine Johnson and Rachel Pimm returned from London to premiere a new video installation in their exhibition THIS IS NOT THIS. They also delivered an artist talk at the university’s annual United conference and at the NMU School of Art and Design.

Endless gratitude to our residents and collaborators for helping define such a wonderful year on and off the island. Extra special thanks to those who support the program locally and from further afield. Patronage is one the most effective ways you can help us continue this work in advancing culture and conservation. Interested in being one of the next artists-in-residence? Our open call for applications for 2019 will be announced in the coming days.

December 7, 2018