The Manifesto

The creative energy of the universe is made manifest in the earth and its natural environment of which we are a part. We are Nature’s children, very bright, headstrong children who have invented myriad ways to lighten our work, entertain and aggrandize ourselves. In so doing many of us have come to believe the pseudo, virtual world is indeed the real world. We are no longer in touch with Nature’s rhythms, therefore ignore its cycles, gobble up its resources and wall ourselves from its beauty, inspiration and teachings. Thus insulating ourselves from our essential nurturance and source of creative energy, we wonder at our unwellness, anxiety, depression and sense of meaninglessness.

Throughout history artists have worked to maintain their original relationship with universal creative energy. In doing so, many have questioned and challenged consensual reality, encountering truth and representing the experience in compelling and tangible ways which awaken our senses and restore awareness of the perfection, power and creativity of our true natures.

For this reason, A Studio in the Woods honors both the artist and the natural environment. We also treasure the time, tranquility and resources the artist requires to reconnect with Nature’s processes as a grounding, regenerating and revisioning experience. Here there is no hierarchy of beings or artforms. The brilliant spiderweb illumined with dew is treated with the same respect as the potter’s vessel or the composer’s melody. Each arises from the rhythms of the day, the sounds of the night, the images, smells and gestures of the woods and waters, and the natural elements of the earth. Each is equally precious.

The grounds of A Studio in the Woods are presented to the resident artist in their most pristine condition. The founders have intruded as little as possible to respectfully create spaces for living, making, presenting, writing and contemplating. Stressful noise and distraction are at a minimum though our 7.66 acres of bottomland hardwood forest are within the city limits of New Orleans and on the banks of one of the greatest waterways in the world. There are spots to sit and contemplate near soil upon which a human foot has not trod for more than 30 years. Animals and plants have been likewise respected. Should this respect be maintained for the next 50 to 75 years, this forest will have regained its original state. It is our firm purpose that this state will be achieved.

The perilous and delicate intersection between Nature and the technological world is the pervasive issue human beings face today. A Studio in the Woods provides a “negotiating ground” in which we take only according to our true needs and give back to the limits of our capability. Only in creating a sanctuary for the natural world can we create a sanctuary for artists.

Concepts best illustrated by Nature, such as diversity, interdependence, balance, simplicity, adaptability, integrity, harmony, rhythm, symbiosis, tone, systems design, freedom, collaboration and improvisation, inform the cross cultural language that reflects this multicultural, multi-artform community in the making. Here no emphasis is placed on product. The inner work of the artist will be recognized as the foundation of outer works of great clarity, power and integrity. Music, performance, written and visual art of this nature call humankind to a higher consciousness in which we become aware of our oneness and the interconnectedness of all life. Only this awareness can preserve life on this magnificent planet.

Visual, performance and literary artists who seek the quality of experience we describe here are invited to present proposals for how they would use the opportunity of being at A Studio in the Woods. Proposals will be judged on their harmony with our mission, the creative use of our resources and seriousness of purpose.

January 10, 2003