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Rabbit Island Artist Residency's video poster

We're building an amazing artist residency on a remote, forested island in the largest freshwater lake in the world. Come along! Read more

Houghton, MI Art
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pledged of $12,500 goal
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This project was successfully funded on July 15, 2011.

We're building an amazing artist residency on a remote, forested island in the largest freshwater lake in the world. Come along!

Houghton, MI Art
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About this project

UPDATE! We've made it! Find out more and check out the specially made Rabbit Island illustration at the following post!

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.

LOCATIONRabbit 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.

PROJECT NEEDS 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.

ETHOSEcological 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


  • Just increase your pledge amount according to the number of items you want. Then send us message telling us. We'll get it sorted for you! For example, if you want 2 t-shirts, pledge the $25 for the t-shirt reward, then increase your pledge to $50 and let us know.

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  • We are working out a lot of the details this first year with Andrew as the lab rat! The residency will be flexible based on the project or proposal put forth. Future residents will be selected by a committee made up of museum directors and gallery directors who are interested in the project and who we've been in touch with. We see the island accommodating 1 to 3 artists at a time and residency will most likely take place during the summer months. We will have a full website up and running by the Fall of 2011 where artists can submit their proposals. We will also be looking into registering the residency with a network like

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  • Valid question! I can't really afford either! To purchase the island I saved for a year, dipped into my retirement account and also borrowed money which I'll be paying back for some time. Additionally, I'm still paying back medical school loans which are quite burdensome. Overall I'm overstretched financially but made the decision to put myself in this position at the time as I thought it was too interesting of an opportunity to pass up. Later in life I knew I would look back and regret if I didn't take this chance as the combination of wilderness, island environment, conservation potential, science, lack of subdivision, seller willingness, adventure, world financial condition at the time (it was the bottom of the "great recession") and location relative to my home, grandfather and Finnish ancestry were like a perfect storm. Once this was done it struck Andrew and I that the island would be a perfect place to use as inspiration. Andrew felt there was a whole subset of artists concentrating on ecological issues that could benefit from such an opportunity, yet I definitely can't afford to put money towards even a small artist residency. It's the artists who will be directly benefitting from this project and because of this Kickstarter was decided as the best way to move this project forward. The money will be going to Andrew's supplies and the project that will benefit all future artists who come to the island.

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  • On Google Maps the island is named 'Traverse Island'. Most locals, including Rob's grandfather, have historically called it "Rabbit Island" as it has both a thriving rabbit population and is located adjacent to the mainland cottage community of Rabbit Bay. Thus we have kept the latter.

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  • Bella (Canvas series) organics!
    Check them out here—

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  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    18 backers

    A special thanks on our website and a static-y thank you phone call direct from the island!

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    25 backers

    An organic cotton tote-bag with a special Rabbit Island screenprint on it!

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    55 backers

    A specially designed and hand-screened Rabbit Island organic cotton t-shirt.

  • You selected
    Pledge $40 or more

    12 backers Limited (8 left of 20)

    The tote-bag or t-shirt plus Andrew and Rob will make a Northern Michigan-inspired mixtape specially for you.

  • You selected
    Pledge $45 or more

    10 backers Limited (40 left of 50)


    A tote-bag and t-shirt combo!

  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    14 backers Limited (61 left of 75)

    The tee and tote + two limited-edition 8x10 photographic prints (one by Rob and one by Andrew).

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    13 backers Limited (12 left of 25)


    We will place a placard with your name on one of our prized white pine saplings and send you a photo. We will nurture it to maturity and hope that our bald eagles nest high in its branches one day! + the tee and tote!

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    0 backers Limited (100 left of 100)

    A limited-edition archivable screenprint of the amazing Rabbit Island illustration by Helen Lovelee. Most likely A3-sized on heavyweight recycled paper!

  • You selected
    Pledge $120 or more

    14 backers Limited (36 left of 50)


    An individually numbered, hand-crafted reclaimed wood box by Andrew Ranville containing a rock selected from the island itself! + the tee and tote!

  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    3 backers Limited (1 left of 4)

    The limited-edition 'Dog' screenprint by Helen Lovelee from her 'frog, lily dog, frond and stick' series. A3-sized, three-color blended silk screen print on 250 GSM archival cotton paper. Numbered and signed by the artist.

  • You selected
    Pledge $300 or more

    6 backers Limited (4 left of 10)

    The tee and tote + a hand-carved and polished walking stick made from hardy Rabbit Island wood! Consider it your super-project-sponsor wizard staff (magical powers not guaranteed).

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer All gone!


    You have the honor of naming the Rabbit Island boat! The name will be hand-painted and the boat ceremonially christened! You also receive the t-shirt and tote-bag of course!

  • You selected
    Pledge $800 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    You will receive a original artwork by Andrew Ranville (to be completed during his residency). The artwork might be anything— a small sculpture, installation, a print, or perhaps a Super 8 film!

  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    1 backer All gone!

    You will receive an original artwork by Andrew Ranville (to be completed during his residency). The artwork might be anything— a large sculpture, installation, a series of prints, or perhaps a 16mm film loop!

  • You selected
    Pledge $2,500 or more

    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)


    Come experience the island yourself. Food and lodging provided. Transportation from within the US provided. You’ll be welcomed to come along with the group who goes this summer to build the residency. You choose how to spend your time– fish, walk through the woods, read and relax... or get your hands dirty and learn about sustainable construction, landscaping, and forestry by working along side us!

  • You selected
    Pledge $6,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    You'll become an official member of "Camp Rabbit Island" and will be able to visit the island every year– either on our group trips or on your own! In addition you'll receive ALL the rewards listed above. If you are interested in this reward please get in touch with us first so we can go over the details!


Funding period

- (36 days)