Rabbit Island Artist Residency: The Story of a Remote Island in Lake Superior

Imagine a remote, forested island in the largest body of freshwater in the world. Now imagine living on that island and being a part of one of the most unique and challenging artist residencies in the world. Rabbit Island is that island, and with your help, Rabbit Island will become that residency.


Rabbit Island lies three miles east of Northern Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula on a gentle rise of sandstone which breaks the blue surface of Lake Superior. It is an undisturbed 90 acre island of forest and rock teeming with wildlife; a rugged, northern ecosystem that remains in its natural state, never in its history suffering development or subdivision.

In February 2010 Rob Gorski had the incredible opportunity to purchase the island (he found the ad on Craigslist!) and worked with the local nature conservancy to place an environmental easement on the land, ensuring that the ecosystem would remain protected forever.

With preservation locked in, the next step will be to create a space where artists and creative researchers can draw from this unique wilderness in their practices.

The Rabbit Island project specifically revolves around building a solid (but modest) cabin for future residents to stay in and a studio for artists to work in. We plan to build these from the island’s own stone and wood.

With your support we’ll be able to get the supplies and materials to make this all a reality. Here are our main needs—

-Transportation to the island. This includes the very important boat! We plan on buying one second-hand from somebody in the local area so we’ll be able to access the island and transport materials there.

-Chainsaws and an Alaskan/portable saw-mill. The island is heavily forested and we want to create sustainably by using what is locally available. We’ve already worked with an arborist and forestry planner and will continue to work with them to develop a plan to select a small amount of trees from the island which will be processed into sustainably harvested, finished timber using the minimal tools that we have on site.

-Power tools and hand tools. To help during the initial construction these tools will remain in the residency for future artists-in-residence to use.

-Solar panel. To provide charging power for tools and other power needs during the building period and general power for the residency in the future.

Ecological concerns are a growing influence within the consciousness of society and the creative practices of many people. Visual artists, writers, designers, architects, farmers and creative researches of all types are doing some amazing things and we want develop an amazing space for those practices to flourish and be challenged. This artist residency presents some really unique constraints: It is off-the-grid, it is nature in its purist form, it’s an experiment, a laboratory. It is isolated from all centralized forms of transportation, energy production, food industry, and, the world of art. Rabbit Island represents a chance to creatively explore ideas related to the absence of civilization in a well-preserved microcosm.

This is why we want to establish an artist residency on Rabbit Island.

Andrew Ranville, a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art in London, United Kingdom, will be the principal artist-in-residence and it will be his mission to design and construct these structures, incorporating them into the landscape of the island. He will draw from the experience of his current art practice as well as previous installations in wilderness settings in Europe and America.

Before coming to Kickstarter we’ve been hard at work– last summer Rob and a small team were able to setup a (mostly-completed) Adirondack shelter on the island to establish a home-base to branch from. But without the funds to go on things slowed down quickly. That is where we need you, the Kickstarter community. We are extremely motivated to continue working on the island and have a plan ready to go!

By supporting us you’ll receive our eternal gratitude and a Rabbit Island-specific token of our appreciation! Just take a look at the list on the right for what you’ll receive for your pledge. If you love the idea of Rabbit Island but are simply unable to support us with a monetary pledge at this time we would be grateful if you linked to us on Facebook or Twitter, etc.

If you are backing a physical goods reward from outside the US please add $10 to your pledge to accommodate overseas/international shipping costs. Thanks!

Thanks for reading, please spread the word! If you have any questions, ideas, cheers or jeers, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Rob & Andrew