A frequently quoted 17th century prose states, “No man is an island entire of itself … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind”. 

The artist residency on Rabbit Island takes a contrasting view. A view of just how insignificant mankind is. The island will continue to exist regardless of our presence and in spite of it. That is not to give the island any personification. The island is simply an island– dirt, rocks, and trees. 

Immersed in the environment of Rabbit Island – its flora and fauna – I experience no mythical spirit or ethereal presence. I experience the island as the physical and finite place it is and always will be. It is a steadfast place. It fills me with awe, certainty, and respect, which obligates me to celebrate the island even more – and almost humorously – the island’s indifference to that celebration and respect reinforces my obligation. 

The island’s complete and unforgiving “realness” makes it an incredibly special place to be, to create, and to experience, as long as one does not attempt to imbue it with some sort of personality. It isn’t “alive” in the same animated sense we tend to project on ostensibly beautiful or unique places; but its agelessness and steadiness contributes to a greater sense of being alive in oneself. 

While “no man is an island” can certainly be true in context, experiencing Rabbit Island has led me to believe that “no island is a man” in all contexts. It is a place where a man is a man, and an island is an island. By stating that simply in five words it reinforces those understandings and elevates both to a level beyond any comparison.

Andrew Ranville’s thoughts on No Island Is A Man, a solo exhibition by the artist opening September 14th, 2012 at the DeVos Art Museum. This will be the first annual museum show devoted to artists in residence on Rabbit Island. 

January 19, 2012