A Studio in the Woods began as the homestead and studios of Lucianne and Joe Carmichael. For thirty years they created ceramics, wood and metal sculptures and furniture in their tranquil forest by the Mississippi River while Lucianne served as the innovative principal of McDonogh #15 elementary school in the French Quarter and Joe lobbied on behalf of public education in Baton Rouge. Motivated by a desire to preserve this endangered forest and utilize it as creative inspiration for artists, the Carmichaels frequently offered students, artists, educators and environmentalists opportunities to learn about the natural environment and its source of inspiration. From this activity grew more formal artists residencies and the need to support these residencies financially and institute them as a formal artists’ retreat.
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.
From our founders’ initial vision of protected wooded space for artists A Studio in the Woods has evolved in response to the key issues of our time. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005 we offered Restoration Residencies, providing support for displaced artists to return to New Orleans and restore their artistic practices. Subsequent themes have focused on our relationship to land and water and have facilitated conversations between artists and faculty/researchers on these themes. Our 2015-17 series, Flint and Steel, sought to formalize this synergy and forge true collaborations by pairing artists with invested academic partners on a broad range of topics. Launched in 2017, Adaptations Residencies focus once again on pressing environmental issues.
A Studio in the Woods is housed within the Tulane ByWater Institute, a research department dedicated to advancing applied, interdisciplinary research and community engagement initiatives around coastal resilience and the urban environment. Friends of A Studio in the Woods, still an independent nonprofit organization, works collaboratively with Tulane to provide financial support for the artistic and environmental programming of A Studio in the Woods.
- Carmichaels first picnic on the land: 1968
- Carmichaels purchase land: 1969
- First school children use the property as an outdoor classroom: 1973
- House completed: 1977
- Pond: 1980
- Studios: 1984
- Artists’ Studio: 1996
- A friend suggests “this ought to be a place for artists”: 1998
- First informal residency: Summer 2000
- First community planning meeting: Summer 2000
- Feasibility study completed: July 2001
- Board forms: October 2001
- First Pilot residency: Fall 2001
- First paid staff hired: May 2002
- Non-profit status: June 2002
- First official juried resident: Spring 2003
- Environmental Curator hired: April 2004
- Kids in the Woods Summer Camp begins: June 2004
- Donation of A Studio in the Woods to Tulane University: December 2004
- Restoration Residencies: 2006 – 2008
- Changing Landscapes Residencies: 2008 – 2011
- Ebb & Flow Residencies: 2011 – 2014
- Stewards Cottage completed: 2013
- Scholarly Residencies begin: 2014
- Flint and Steel Residencies: 2015 – 2017
- Lucianne Carmichael passes: November 2016
- Adaptations Residencies begin: 2017
- ByWater Biological Field Station formed: 2017