Signal Fire announces the 2015 Wide Open Studios calendar and call for applications from artists and students of all disciplines. Wide Open Studios is an arts and ecology field program with college-level curriculum that has facilitated backcountry trips throughout the American West.
Wide Open Studios courses present unique opportunities to reshape conventional studio strategies by fostering a knowledgeable and creative response to the natural world. Students learn through immersion, as they backpack and camp together in remote terrain. The content centers on the natural and human histories of each destination as well as the possibilities of making art in—and in response to—wild places. Collaborative and individual projects allow students to see the wild as a site of wonder, empowerment, action, and connection.
January 3–10: Representing the Post-Natural Landscape
Apply by: November 30, 2014
This course uses art as an entry point for decoding the complex and fraught desert region of Southern California. We’ll spend the first half of the trip backpacking in a stunning wilderness, adjusting to outdoor living. Texts and short projects will inform our discussions about how modes of representation shape our cultural connection to the land. Then we’ll take day trips to some less idyllic spots that reveal the scars of the American West: the collapsed resort community of the Salton Sea, an adjoining Navy bombing range, and agricultural sacrifice zones. We’ll contrast these areas with the extraordinary terrain of Joshua Tree National Park and conclude our trip in a wilderness that adjoins the highly militarized US-Mexico border.
March 22–28: MFA Spring Break – Strip to Strip
Apply by: November 30, 2014
Our third annual MFA trip is a study in contrasts. Las Vegas provides a bizarre book-end to our time in the “Arizona Strip,” a band of remote desert north of the Grand Canyon and south of the Utah border. The nearby Virgin River Canyon is the gateway for one of the largest proposed wilderness complexes in the Southwest, and is also an invitation to discover the paradoxes shaping this lesser known region: an arid land shaped by water, scarcely peopled yet rife with evidence of past populations, boasting jaw-dropping splendor but overshadowed by proximity to one of the nation’s top destinations. Equal parts adventure holiday and workshop, this course is aimed at graduate students from any discipline, to engage in the shared experiment of a desert journey, projects, and discussions.
June 14–July 11: Summer Immersion Trip – Endless Rivers
(available for three transferrable credits through a partnership with Oregon College of Art and Craft)
Apply by: January 31, 2015
Wide Open Studios’ most ambitious and transformative course takes place this year in the Klamath-Siskiyou region along the Oregon-California border. The Klamath is a zone of great mystery and unparalleled biotic diversity. Endless Rivers combines four backpacking expeditions with numerous visiting artists and scientists, and day trips to the small towns, indigenous communities, and historic sites that make this ancient range one of the greatest secrets of the American West. A month in the wild will reinvigorate your creative mind like nothing else on Earth.
The Future Wild
Along with all of Signal Fire’s 2015 programs, Wide Open Studios courses will take place both in established wilderness areas and unprotected roadless landscapes. Readings and discussions will confront the triumphant yet troubled history of wilderness, parse its practical applications from its philosophical origins, and look to frame a future wild that embodies both a radical vision of land management and is unafraid to answer tough questions about the shortcomings of the American environmental ethic.
Signal Fire provides opportunities for artists and activists to engage in the natural world. Our projects instill self-reliance, catalyze creative energy, and invite interdisciplinary collaboration. We utilize public lands to advocate for the protection of our remaining wild and open places in order to enrich and sustain society. Since 2008, Signal Fire has hosted over 200 writers, filmmakers, visual artists, musicians, performers, researchers, and creative agitators.