Upper Michigan Artist Residencies

Lake Superior reflecting the sunset in Marquette MI, Photography by Marquette Artist, Visual Artist, Artist, Taryn Okesson.

Five artist residencies: Rabbit Island, The Mackinac State Historic Parks, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royal National Park and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, all here in the Upper Peninsula.

Rabbit Island Residency

Rabbit Island otherwise known as Traverse Island is a private island with a conservation easement granted by the Keweenaw Land Trust. This means is the owner worked with the Keweenaw Land Trust to conserve the land by donating certain rights as a property owner to the land trust (Keweenaw Land Trust in this case). The agreement between Land Owner and Trust is attached to the property deed and the conservation of the property continues when/if the property exchanges hands.

Rabbit Island Flickr Album

The Rabbit Island Foundation, which the Artist Residency program is part of, is a non-profit 501c3 with David Gorski, Rob Gorski and Andrew Ranville as the Board of Directors. Rob Gorski (an ER Physician from New York) and Andrew Ranville (an artist) founded the Residency Program that grew from the Gorski brothers initial desire to purchase a seasonal camp. Rob Gorski found the island property for sale on Craigslist. They began the Residency program using Kickstarter in 2011 to raise nearly 15,000. In 2014 the Residency program formally began.

Rabbit Island Residency Exhibit at Devos Art Museum 2017, Devos Art Museum Flickr

Rabbit Island is an undeveloped 91 acre island three miles off the east coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Undeveloped, with the exception of a log camp ruin from 1883 and the rustic facilities built for the Residency Program. It is a small island with shallow soil over sandstone and forested. It is home to many species of birds, insects and fish; but not deer.

The Rabbit Island Residency brings in hundreds of applicants for the 2-4 week residencies. The number of accepted applicants are limited to minimize impact on the land. In 2022, after record applicants in 2021, they pulled back and invited Rabbit Island Alumni. More information here.

When we agree to protect land, either by owning it or by holding a conservation easement, we commit to taking care of it for the long haul.

Keweenaw Land Trust

The Mackinac State Historic Parks Artist-In-Residence Program

This residency runs 2-3 weeks from June through early October and artists will stay in the former Coast Guard Station. If offered in 2023, it will mark the fifth year of the Residency Program on Mackinac Island. This program is looking for artists to be inspired by the island.

More information here.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Residency

To-date their website says they have a residency every fall and the page for it is under construction. Former Residency Alumni Todd Marsee describes a solar powered cabin near the lakeshore on his website. We’ll have to wait and see if this artist residency is refreshed or is indefinitely paused like Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Storm at Au Sable Point
From Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Flickr

Isle Royal Residency

Another island. If you weren’t from the Upper Peninsula reading this you might start thinking we all lived on beautiful islands. Almost. (The Upper Peninsula is technically, completely surrounded by water). The Isle Royal residency runs in the summer months, 2 – 3 weeks and 3 or 4 artists are chosen to stay in a rustic cabin. Artists are expected “to be self-sufficient, in good health, and expect cool temperatures, solitude, and simple facilities.”

Isle Royal is the only National Park in Michigan. It was designated a wilderness area in 1976. In 2021 a little over 20,000 people made it to the island compared to the 3,064,400 who visited Joshua Tree the same year. Both of these National Parks offer an Artist Residency Program.

Artist-in-Residence program at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

The Friends of the Porkies is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) that organizes the Artist Residency program at the Porcupine Mountains. The State Park and the Friends of the Porkies’ roots go back to the 1940’s. Artists will stay in the rustic “Dan’s Cabin” named for Dan Urbanski, founding president of the Friends of the Porkies. The residency is 2 weeks long. The 2023 application is live▪️

Enter Your Email For a Newsletter with Book Recommendations and More

I’d Love To Hear What You Think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oops! That’s mine. All images on this site belong to Taryn Okesson©️