Announcing Big River Continuum: A Collaborative Exchange Residency

September 25, 2019

A Studio in the Woods a pleased to announce a new collaborative exchange residency in partnership with University of Minnesota’s Itasca Biological Station and Weisman Art Museum. Big River Continuum Residencies cultivate creative exchanges connecting communities of the Mississippi River from the Headwaters to the Delta.

Taking inspiration from the Ojibwe name Misiziibi, or gichi-ziibi meaning Huge River, this initiative turns the Mississippi River in its entirety into a platform for creative collaboration. It strives to connect geographies and sectors and to synergize the uniqueness of regional and indigenous cultures, artists and scholars in a shared process of inquiry.

Two indigenous artists, Karen Goulet from the Headwaters and Monique Verdin from the Delta, will travel to the opposite end of the river from their respective homes to be in residence. This program seeks to propel collaboration across regions and ignite inquiry into the interconnectedness of cultures, research and river/land environments.

Since 2001, A Studio in the Woods implements its mission to protect and preserve the Mississippi River bottomland hardwood forest and provides a tranquil haven where artists and scholars reconnect with creative energy. Founded in 1909, Itasca Station maintains a mission of place-based biological research, teaching, and engagement at the Mississippi River headwaters.

About the Artists:

Karen Goulet is an enrolled member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation. She is also from Métis, Saami, and Finnish people.  She was raised to honor the beauty of the natural world while at the same time was taught to speak the truth and stand up for what she believed in. She believes that art can change the world and supports and honors the efforts of those who are working to make a difference through creative means. Karen received her BA from The Evergreen State College in Fine Arts and Cultural Education, her MFA in Sculpture from The University of Wisconsin – Madison, and her MEd from University of Minnesota Duluth.   She is an artist, poet, educator and community organizer who is fiercely committed to bringing visibility and voice to marginalized realities. She remembers the struggles of those who came before her and does what she can to make opportunity for those who will come next.

Monique Verdin has intimately documented the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate and change along the Gulf South, for decades. Her indigenous Houma relatives and their lifeways at the ends of the bayous, found in the heart of America’s Mississippi River Delta, from the Yakne Chitto (Big Country, territory between the Atchafalaya River and the Mississippi) to Bulbancha (“Place of many tongues”, New Orleans), has been the primary focus of her storytelling practice. Her interdisciplinary work has been included in an assortment of environmentally inspired projects, including the multiplatform/performance/ecoexperience Cry You One as well as the publication Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. Monique is director of The Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange, a series of southeast Louisiana activations sharing native seeds and local knowledge through citizen collaboration, attempting to building a community record of history and present, while seeking regenerative solutions. Verdin is a citizen and former councilwoman of south Louisiana’s United Houma Nation and is a part of the Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative core leadership circle of brown (indigenous, latinx and desi) women, from Texas to Florida, working to envision just economies, vibrant communities and sustainable ecologies.