Fantasy Island: Lake Superior's Eco Artist Residency

Images: The Rabbit Island Project via Kickstarter.

It looks like the purchasing of remote, private islands is the newest "thing" amongst the rich and famous (mostly just rich), as evidenced in a recent Wall Street Journal real estate trend piece about the cay-buying craze taking place in a remote stretch of the Bahamas where the fabulously well-heeled are snatching up uninhabited islands left and right and erecting massive homes on them. Paging Tattoo...

And then there’s the case of a New Yorker named Rob Gorski who in February 2010 purchased (on Craigslist!) an uninhabited 91-acre island "of forest and rock teeming with wildlife" off of northern Michigan"s Keweenaw Peninsula in the middle of Lake Superior.

His intention? To keep the island in its natural state — he worked with The Keweenaw Land Trust to place an environmental easement on the land, protecting it from development — aside from the creation of a sustainable, off-the-grid artist colony that he’s developing with London-based Andrew Ranville who will serve as the island’s artist-in-residence.

Earlier the summer, the duo took to Kickstarter to raise funds for the project, dubbed the Rabbit Island Project, and help make their wilderness island/artist residence dreams come true. The fundraising goal of $12,500, earmarked towards "main needs" — items such a solar panel, power and hand tools, a chainsaw and last but not least, a boat — was exceeded last month by a couple grand so it looks like Gorski and Ranville are good to go (for now). Backers of the project will receive organic cotton tote bags and t-shirts, original artwork, "Northern Michigan-inspired mixtapes," and even a trip to the island where you can "get your hands dirty and learn about sustainable construction, landscaping, and forestry by working along side us."

Here’s the very "Pratt Institute meets the Eagle Scouts" ethos, in the words of Gorski and Ranville, that the project backers are helping to develop:

Ecological concerns are a growing influence within the consciousness of society and the creative practices of many people. Visual artists, writers, designers, architects, farmers and creative researches of all types are doing some amazing things and we want develop an amazing space for those practices to flourish and be challenged. This artist residency presents some really unique constraints: It is off-the-grid, it is nature in its purist form, it"s an experiment, a laboratory. It is isolated from all centralized forms of transportation, energy production, food industry, and, the world of art. Rabbit Island represents a chance to creatively explore ideas related to the absence of civilization in a well-preserved microcosm.

Super cool — certainly the first "let’s create a sustainable artist residency on a deserted island" fundraising initiative that I’ve come across — and it sounds like Team Rabbit Island is putting Gorski’s rather unusual Craigslist purchase to good, green use.