Celebrating 20 Years – The First Residents

February 24, 2021

2021 marks the twentieth year of programming at A Studio in the Woods! To celebrate this milestone, we will be bringing you reflections throughout the year, looking back on our programs, the artists and scholars who have shaped them, and the inspiring new works that have resulted. In this installment, we’re reflecting on the first few years of residencies, when it was just one artist at a time, living and working alongside our Founders, Joe and Lucianne Carmichael.

Pilot Residencies
The Pilot Residencies were our very first residencies. They were unadvertised and served as learning experiences for the founders and staff, recommended by board members as artists willing and even enthusiastic to test out the facilities, hospitality, surroundings, and ambience.

M. Jude, artisan, India, 2001
Yuki Fukushima, potter, Japan, 2002
Francine Prevost, poet, France, 2002

Open Call Residencies
Following the success of Pilot Residencies we moved into an open call framework, putting out a public call for applications open to artists of all genres, career stages, and geographical locations. These Open Call Residencies typically lasted one month and were awarded based on the seriousness of purpose, harmony with the mission of A Studio in the Woods, quality of the work, and the creative use of the studio’s time, space, and natural environment. Artists were encouraged to interact with the public. Some elected to have an informal community dinner at the end of their residency while others gave readings, held open studios to exhibit work created while in residency, or gave informal talks on their work and the residency experience.

Jane Marshall, painter and printmaker, Alabama, 2003
Wendy Taylor Carlisle, poet, Texas, 2003
Stephen Dankner, composer, Louisiana, 2004
Krista Franklin, poet, Illinois, 2004
Deedra Ludwig, painter, Washington, 2004
Alexis Wreden, sculptor and landscape architect, Louisiana, 2004
Sheryl St. Germain, writer, Iowa, 2005 (pre-Katrina)
Reggie Young, writer, Louisiana, 2005 (pre-Katrina)

River Residencies
River Residencies followed and continued the use of the open call framework. Designed to honor the Mississippi River, these residencies were our first with an explicitly environmental focus. River Residencies provided sustained quality work time in contact with the Mississippi; allowing artists to experience and study the river, using it as a catalyst to create art that contributes to our awareness of the river, its needs, and its gifts to all life.

Pat Warner, sculptor, California, 2004
Aurora Levins Morales, writer and historian, California, 2005 (pre-Katrina)

Special Invitation Residencies
At the same time we were hosting these open call residents, we first imagined Special Invitation Residencies. These sought to serve both the need of a particular artist to have the opportunity for self-restoration and creation of new work, and the wider community’s benefit from that new work. The legacy of these residencies continues today in our Special Collaboration Residencies, through which we partner with other mission-driven organizations to support artists’ projects.

Daniel Winkert, architect, Louisiana, 2003
Dr. Michael White, composer, Louisiana, 2003–2004


These early years of programming were full of learning, about how to host residents, how to fund the program, and ultimately how to ensure its continued existence. The founders’ strong intention was for this endangered bottomland hardwood forest to provide education and inspiration for artists and students of all ages and be preserved in perpetuity. In order to ensure this, the Carmichaels donated their homestead, studios and property to Tulane University in December 2004. That year also marks the beginning of both our Kids in the Woods Summer Camp and Environmental Curator David Baker’s invasive species removal project.

These early residencies were also the beginning of one of our most cherished resources – our network of alumni artists. We are still in relationship with many of these residents 15+ years later. Last fall, Dr. Michael White served as a nominator for Relief Residencies, which offer retreat to local BIPOC artists and culture bearers in the wake of the devastating impacts of the pandemic. Deedra Ludwig recently completed a project incredibly dear to our hearts, painting the clay vessel made by founding board member MaPo Kinnord that now holds our founder Lucianne Carmichael’s ashes. As much as we have supported these artists, they have supported us.

Thank you for following along as we celebrate and reflect on the last twenty years of programming at A Studio in the Woods. Next time we’ll look back at the profound impact Hurricane Katrina had on our forest, residencies, and vision.

Donate here to help support our next twenty years.

Images below:
1. Open Call Resident Stephen Dankner creating music in the Artist’s Studio.
2. Founder Joe Carmichael and River Resident Pat Warner exploring the Louisiana landscape by boat.
3. Founder Lucianne Carmichael and Open Call Resident Alexis Wreden getting in touch with nature.
4 & 5. Special Invitation Resident Dr. Michael White and band perform in Algiers Point.
6. Open Call Resident Krista Franklin on the porch swing outside the Artist’s Studio.
7. Open Call Resident Wendy Taylor Carlisle gives a reading in the Woods.
8. Pilot Resident Yuki Fukushima at work in the Founders’ Studio.
9. Flyer from an event for River Residencies.
10. A young David Baker hard at work.
11. Founders Joe and Lucianne Carmichael sign the paperwork to officially donate A Studio in the Woods to Tulane University.
Header Image: Open Call Resident Deedra Ludwig at work on the porch of the Artists’s Studio.