On Saturday, June 7th, 2014, Elvia Wilk, Rabbit Island’s first fully supported Artist-in-Residence, landed and unpacked her bags in the small shelter on the island’s western shore. The lake was calm and the water was 36 degrees. There was a light drizzle. The sky was overcast. We ran the boat south from Big Traverse Bay over approximately eight miles of open water due to winter ice damage at the Hannula’s harbor piers in Rabbit Bay, our usual launch. Small waves lapped the sandstone shoreline adjacent to the island’s mooring. Legs and feet numbed quickly while ferrying supplies from the boat to land in thigh-deep water just days after the last of the lake ice melted.
Elvia is an American artist who travelled from Berlin, Germany, to spend three weeks on Rabbit Island immersed in solitude. She brought clothing suited to variable spring weather in the midst of Lake Superior, food, camp fuel, a number of books on subjects ranging from science fiction to a sociologist’s view of the art world, and a manual typewriter.
Her first several days on the island were windless and calm and temperatures ranged from the upper 50’s to mid 60’s. She settled in and learned the nuances of the island—how to run the small aluminum boat that was left for her, how to troubleshoot the camp stove, etc. Lake Superior’s surface was glassy for a rare extended stretch. Abundant salamanders were found in the forest—a new discovery.
Yesterday, however, the weather changed and the lake showed a more turbulent side. Winds to 35 knots pushed through the island’s trees, shaking them audibly. Waves crashed against the rocks. Intermittent rain fell and overnight temperatures dropped to 41 degrees. It is indeed compelling to consider the emotions one feels alone and exposed, sheltered in only basic terms. Elvia is currently in the midst of an uncommon period of time away from it all.
On June 21st, our second Artist-in-Residence, Nich Hance McElroy, will be arriving. He and Elvia will work alongside one another for several days. Then, later in July, four artists composing the collective Waboozaki will take up residence on Rabbit Island.
Saturday was a big day for us and we’d like to document it for the sake of posterity. The Rabbit Island community has come a long way since its inception in 2010. Many incredible artists, musicians, chefs, writers, photographers, scientists and friends have shared this island and left no trace, yet this year we are proud and excited to fully support these 6 residents with $2,250 individual stipends, a group show at the DeVos Art Museum opening on August 18th, a catalogue publication, and, most of all, a wild and remote space to explore their creativity on. We are hopeful that meaningful ideas will be added to our culture by these artists and that many more acres of land will be set aside as society recognizes the need to organize itself reasonably.