UNO documentary: A Studio in the Woods
Ama Rogan, Managing Director—Studio in the Woods
Film by: UNO student and documentary filmmaker Caleb Belile
“So a studio in the woods is many things. It’s a place for artists. It’s a protected bottomland hardwood forest. It’s a part of Tulane University. It’s a place for students, and learners of arts and science. It’s a place for people to come and have seclusion and solitude in the natural environment to be able to create new work. To be inspired by nature. To have new ideas and new visions.
The founders, Joe and Lucianne Carmichael, themselves were artists and both were in education. Gradually overtime they built themselves a studio building, and then in the 90s they built a gallery building. Around Christmas time they would have a show of their work and their friend’s work., and they became pretty well-known for this.
Over the process of doing that, they began to see that they wanted to gift this place to artists—to dedicate it to the creative process.
In 2001, the Carmichaels spearheaded forming the non-profit Friends of A Studio in the Woods. We began to raise money, develop programming, and that’s when we started the signature programming of residencies.
In 2004, the Carmichaels—through friends we connected through Tulane University—negotiated it as a gift for Tulane University. This now belongs to Tulane University, which has been a fantastic move.
We’ve hosted over 70 artists since that time, artists of all disciplines: performing arts, visual arts, literary arts. The artists are invited to stay between 3-6 weeks in residence. We provide them with a stipend as well as room and board. In the early stages, we really welcomed artists to come here and do the work that they were already engaged with. As the years progressed, we’ve designed calls to artists around particular themes.
We did six years of environmentally themed residencies: changing landscapes, ebb and flow (dealing with water), and the series we’re in now is entitled ‘Flint and Steel.’ We call it cross-disciplinary combustion. We’re looking to partner artists with academics in particular fields.
We do a number of other programs. We love doing rentals because it really exposes this very protected and often private space to a larger group, and they can benefit from the experience of inspiration in nature.
One exciting thing on the horizon is that we are completing fundraising for what we’re calling ‘The Writer’s Cabin,’ and that will be a stand-alone live and work space for writers, composers, and any artist that doesn’t need a studio in which to get messy.
We’re expanding our capacity for artists. Right now we can have two artists at any given time. We’re looking towards additional themes for residencies. It makes a difference to get out of town and to come to a place that’s intentionally not full of all our other day-to-day influences.”