A ‘New’ New York in Rabbit Island

Move over, Brooklyn! There’s a new art scene in town

By: Chet Chung 

Rocks on the Shore

Via dr.rob, flickr

Craigslist, an online service for classified advertisements of various natures, has gained a name for being home to many a bizarre property listings and real-estate sales.

One such posting appeared online last February, which described “Rabbit Island”, a 91-acre island just off the shores of Michigan in Lake Superior. Rob Gorski, a practicing physician in New York, happened to come across the advertisement online and was unable to resist the allure.

“It was love at first sight,” said Gorski, who is in his early thirties and maintains strong familial roots in Troy, Michigan.  “It was an amazing experience, pulling up on the boat, seeing rocks coming out of the bottom of the lake.”

Located three miles off Northern Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, the island flourishes with wildlife and nature. Its pristine condition is a result of minimal previous human habitation on the island.


Few artist residencies feature a similar withdrawal from civilization into pure nature


Now, Gorski and fellow sculptor Andrew Ranville, who is a native of London and alumnus of the Slade School of Fine Art, are looking to turn the island into a “mini Manhattan” artist residency, comprising a environmentally sensitive community for artists to live and work in.

The project is aimed at providing artists with a unique work setting, isolated amid the comparative ‘wilderness’ of Rabbit Island.“It is because of this rare complete absence of civilization we feel it would be an interesting setting for thinkers, artists, writers and dancers given the contrasts to typical urban life,” Gorski told The Gothamist, an online publication devoted to the cultural happenings in New York City.

Ranville has noted in previous articles on the enterprise that few artist residencies feature a similar withdrawal from civilization into pure nature, remarking that it’s essentially an unknown concept.

“You’re basically setting up a space which will be really challenging and can be really important for the future,” he said. “There’s an increasing movement of people concerned about being an artist and trying to do that in a sustainable way.  It’s hard to find a residency that can kind of present that in such a tangible way.”

To fund their efforts, Ranville and Gorski have created a campaign on Kickstarter, an online pledge system, where supporters can contribute to the project’s financial goal. 

In return for pledges, the duo are offering various gifts of gratitude in accordance with the amount donated, ranging from a simple thank-you call to a trip to the island.  Indeed, the concept has received much backing, having already surpassed the targeted $12,500 needed to initiate the project.  

Looking forward, Ranville, the first artist-in-residence on Rabbit Island, intends to invite other artists to the island for the coming year. Meanwhile, Ranville and Gorski are accepting submissions from architects interested in physically helping with the project. “The island is a truly wild space and we want to keep it that way,” said Ranville. 

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