The Pilot Residencies were our very first residencies and were conducted unofficially before A Studio in the Woods became a nonprofit artists’ community. They were unadvertised and served as learning experiences for the founders and staff to find out whether residencies in these buildings and natural environment were in fact constructive experiences for artists and logistically possible for those who live and work in the woods. The pilot residents were recommended by board members as artists willing and even enthusiastic to test out the facilities, hospitality, surroundings, and ambience. Each pilot artist was provided with food, lodging, and a studio as well as informal assistance with transportation when necessary.
M. Jude, artisan, India, 2001
In February and March of 2000, Lucianne Carmichael visited Penukonda, India at the invitation of the Young India Project, a non-profit organization founded by Sonja and Narinda Bedi and doing work to improve the lives of rural farmworkers and crafts-people for the past 30 years. She came to work with indigenous potters in a small village of diverse craftspersons such as women textile workers and stone masons, and it was there that she met Marshall Jude, an artisan wood-worker and carpenter. Jude became Lucianne’s teacher in her quest to understand more about the lives and culture of the potters, known as the Kumara, “the people who struggle.” Jude’s help greatly enriched her experience with the potters and respect for these fine persons ultimately extended her understanding of “the people who struggle” all over the world.
Lucianne also told Jude stories of her own plans to invite artists to the woods for restorative residencies and Jude asked if he could come to assist in the building of lodging for the artists. For six months he was in the United States in residence and helping in a myriad ways to bring A Studio in the Woods closer to the first official residencies. Lucianne and Joe are still in contact with Jude today.
Yuki Fukushima, potter, Japan, 2002
“The most difficult part besides the obvious language barrier and Yuki’s great effort to overcome it, is the shortness of the residency. One month is not enough for a potter and for real exploration. Three months is needed. The best part of the residency was following her own imagination. This was a new experience for her and being challenged by the porcelain clay. As for what the experience did for Yuki as an artist she said that in Japan she has been thinking only in a certain narrow way. She is now thinking more broadly. Her creativity has opened and grown. When she returns home she will continue on her own time with the ideas she began during the residency. Whatever she tries that works well she will incorporate into her regular work. She is eager to show her co-workers her new pieces.”
Shoko Sakai, interpreter for Yuki Fukushima
Yuki Fukushima was born in Matsue, Japan, a small city on the Sea of Japan. The western coast is sometimes called “the back of Japan,” and is far more traditional than the frenetic and high-stress eastern coast. Traditional crafts are still practiced there using methods hundreds of years old. Yuki’s father, Kazuo Fukushima, was a traditional potter whose noborigama, or climbing kiln, was on a mountainside near Matsue.
As a young child Yuki loved to watch her father and there made her first piece, a small figure. At the same time Yuki was playing the piano and developing a great love for music. When she graduated from high school her father wanted her to go to Aichi Ceramic Institute in the city of Seto, an ancient seat of traditional Japanese pottery, but Yuki’s love for music and desire to go to a big city led her to Tokyo and a job making books of music before later becoming an illustrator of children’s books.
Suddenly Kazuo Fukushima fell seriously ill and it became clear to Yuki that she must attend the Aichi Ceramic Institute and follow in her father’s footsteps to become a potter, which made him quite proud. Yuki studied at the Institute for two years, following which she joined a studio in Seto to work with four other potters and glass blowers producing beautiful, nontraditional contemporary ware.
Matsue, Japan and New Orleans, Louisiana have had a number of international cultural and economic exchanges over the past several years, including one in 1994 that brought Lucianne and Joe Carmichael from A Studio in the Woods to work with Kohichi Takita, apprentice to Shoji Hamada, Japan’s most famous contemporary potter and a living national treasure. There the Carmichaels befriended sisters Emi and Yuki Fukushima which began a series of artist exchanges between the two countries. The Carmichaels decided to invite Yuki to be one of their Pilot Residents and she thrived in the creative environment where she was allowed free reign with her designs rather than being obligated to follow traditional patterns.
Francine Prevost, poet, France, 2002
A Studio in the Woods founding board member, Jan Gilbert recommended her longtime friend, Francine Prevost, a French poet and visual artist living in Canada for a Pilot Residency. Francine spent three weeks exploring the levee, batture, and riverside collecting rocks and driftwood. She created a show of her poetry on large paper laid on a city sidewalk amidst collage designs in driftwood and rocks. One of Francine’s poems, below, can be found in a mixed media canvas and driftwood piece on the exterior wall beside the door to the artists’ studio.