Eleven artists from across the country have been selected by a jury for solo residencies from March 2021 to June 2022 at Tusen Takk, a beautiful space in Leland dedicated to giving artists solitary time in which to create.
This first season brings a group of exceptionally talented people to a beautiful place to work in a variety of media including painting, printmaking, photography, music composition, and creative writing. Each artist will work and live at Tusen Takk for between three and eight weeks. The range of activities they plan to undertake is varied; from completing work for a specific exhibition or performance to finishing the writing of a novel to creating a new body of work. The common thread is that they will immerse themselves in this Northern Michigan landscape and create work.
The six-acre space houses a structure designed to host artists-in-residence in an environment that fosters access to each other and to the gorgeous landscapes of Leelanau County in Northern Michigan. Lake Michigan plays a role in everything from the colors, the sounds and the power of the Great Lakes.
Tusen Takk’s Founder Geoffrey Peckham began working with architect Peter Bohlin in 2008 when he and his wife, Patricia, decided to move from Pennsylvania to Leelanau. Peter, one of the founding principals of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson was awarded the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects, the highest honor for an individual in the profession. The Tusen Takk Main House was completed in 2013 and Geoffrey and Patricia moved from Pennsylvania into their new home. Soon after, through an understanding that artists need creative spaces and in conversations with their son, Tom, an art student, Geoffrey and Patricia called upon Peter to begin creating additional spaces that could be used for artists-in-residence. Two things then happened that led them to form a foundation with an artist-in-residence program.
Tusen Takk residencies give a time and a place for accomplished artists to explore new ideas or expand current work that affirms and enriches the human spirit, giving form to chaos and perception to beauty. A residency is a time to create; it’s also a time for artists to consider how their work engages with the history of its medium and how it intersects with existential questions of meaning and purpose.
“Tusen Takk” means “thousand thanks” in Norwegian and lies at the heart of the Tusen Takk Foundation’s thankfulness for the transcendent truth and intangible joy that artists, writers, and composers give back to the world in their work. Tusen Takk was designed to host one resident or two in collaboration. Each year, Tusen Takk hosts six to eight artists working in the visual arts, writing, or music composition. In a small way, each artist is asked to contribute to the arts in this region while in residence. This public program could take the form of an exhibition, lecture, or performance in collaboration with one of the Tusen Takk Foundation’s partners, currently including the Dennos Museum Center, Northwestern Community College, and Leland’s Old Art Building.
To help define the tools, facilities, and spaces that will be used by the artists who follow, Tusen Takk hosted a series of pilot residencies before the launch of the residency program in March 2021. Each pilot resident has brought unique expertise and offered feedback which has been instrumental in completing Tusen Takk’s studios and guesthouse. Pilot artists included: Alan Eaker, painter and retired Director of Graphicstudio (December 2019-March 2020); Johnny Coleman, installation artist and Professor of Art and Africana Studies at Oberlin College (October 2020); Traverse City-based illustrator and author Brianne Farley (December 2020); and Seattle-based sculptor Dan Webb (January 2021).
The Foundation’s website serves as a hub for current and alumni artists to share their personal reflections about the creative process, their chosen fields, and their work with the public. tusentakk.org
Vaune Trachtman, Visual Art: Photography/Printmaking
Vaune Trachtman is a photographer and printmaker whose work honors the methods and tone of historic processes but without the toxic chemicals. Formerly a master printer of silver gelatin prints and asphaltum-based photogravures, she began to feel that her immune-system was being compromised by those processes. She now makes gravures with little more than sunlight and water. Her images explore the evanescence of dreams and memory—a “fleeting, wondrous, sacred habitation” (Collier Brown, Od Review). Vaune was born in Philadelphia and received her M.A. from NYU and the International Center of Photography. She lives in Brattleboro, VT.
At Tusen Takk, Vaune will print work for the upcoming exhibition of her series NOW IS ALWAYS at the Griffin Museum of Photography. While in residence, she says she is also “interested in making a hand-bound book of NOW IS ALWAYS so that viewers have a second, more intimate way of interacting with it.” The series is supported by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a semi-finalist in The Print Center’s 95th ANNUAL International Competition.
Kadhja Bonet, Music Composition
With a background in film production and classical violin, Kadhja Bonet emerged on the music scene in 2014. Her second record, Childqueen (2018) garnered support and attention from NPR, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, GQ, Complex Magazine, Pitchfork, and more publications. She has collaborated with artists and producers like Anderson Paak, Childish Gambino, and Khruangbin.
Kadhja writes, arranges and produces intricate orchestrations with heartfelt lyricism and a range of influences and textures. NPR says, “Bonet’s vision renders the genre classifications meaningless. She’s doing something profoundly individual here: proof of her idiosyncratic genius is tucked into the tiny background details.” (NPR First Listen, Tom Moon, May 31, 2018). Her music earnestly and defiantly finds its own truth.
At Tusen Takk, Kadhja will continue composing a two-part album about a space odyssey. The first side of the record is a symphonic suite combining orchestral gospel with textured synthesizers, most movements representing moments of significant travel or growth. The second side is its electronic counterpart, minimalistic and uptempo, representing moments of fight, struggle, and perseverance. Choir vocals, rich with harmonies and articulation, will bridge both sides of this work.
Marianne Shaneen, Literature: Fiction
Marianne Shaneen is a writer of fiction, essays, and poetry. She has been awarded fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Djerassi, and the Tusen Takk Foundation (2021). She received her MFA in writing from the Bard Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Her fiction “The Mason Jar” was published in The Kenyon Review (Sept/Oct 2020), and her work has appeared in Bomb magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, the book Monstrous Adaptations (Manchester University Press), Vanitas, and elsewhere.
At Tusen Takk, Marianne will finish Homing, “a wildly ranging speculative fiction of animal-human-geological entanglement, grounded in an intimate portrait of a woman’s unmoored relationship to her family and identity.” Homing experiments with what Marianne calls “writing in the first non-human-person, engaging the ‘perspective’ of nonhuman creatures and materials—a magpie, a tree, a housefly, a stone, plastic—and how they are all deeply embedded in the life of the narrator.” Marianne describes the work as “zooming from micro to macro, through fable and hyperbole connect[ing] patriarchal power and histories of genocide and militarization, and delv[ing] into strata of geology and memory, taking imaginative flights through American cultural mythology.” She describes Homing as “ultimately a complex portrait of a woman who is characterized by her place in our contemporary moment—where the potential implications of our interconnectedness may be as destructive as they are liberating and sublime.”
Nishiki Sugawara-Beda, Visual Art: Painting
Nishiki Sugawara-Beda is a Japanese-American visual artist based in painting and installation and has an MFA from Indiana University and a BA from Portland State University. She exhibits her work in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally to promote cultural diversity and exchange. Exhibition venues include Spartanburg Art Museum (SC), Morris Graves Museum of Art (CA), and Amos Eno Gallery (NY). Publications include New American Paintings, Expose Art Magazine, AEQAI, and London Post. Awards including Seed Grant, Diversity Fellow Program, International Enhancement Grant, Idaho Art Fellow, and Sam Taylor Fellowship have supported her artistic research. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at SMU in Dallas, TX.
At Tusen Takk, Nishiki will explore both capturing and interpreting the essences of the land in the surrounding area through walks, interactions, “quietly reflecting on myself as an artist.” By producing soot from reclaimed cedar trees that have washed up on Tusen Takk’s beach, she will make Sumi (Asian ink) and create “reflective, internal, and spiritual landscape paintings” that use actual particles of the landscape to make the image. According to Nishiki, her landscape paintings “are more abstract and reflect internal, spiritual spaces, where viewers can situate themselves, navigating through formal aspects (points, lines, forms, gesture, and colors) of the work.”
Martin Brief, Visual Art: Drawing
Born and raised in Chicago, Martin Brief is an artist who makes drawings imbued with a sense of time and labor. These drawings explore contemporary culture and are a meditative practice. Martin’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally including exhibitions in New York, Paris, Zurich, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Chicago. In addition, his work is in several public collections, including the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has received fellowships from the Howard Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. Martin currently lives and works in St. Louis and is a Professor at Saint Louis University.
At Tusen Takk, Martin will continue explorations for his series System Failure (working title) and begin to develop ideas for new work. With his experience in woodworking, Martin is looking forward to taking advantage of the woodshop in addition to returning to his roots in photography and book arts through experimentation in the printing studios. He is counting on the solitude that Tusen Takk affords to usher in some concentrated time to think, sketch, develop and plan new projects.
Frank Gohlke, Visual Art: Photography
Frank Gohlke is a photographer who has been creating thoughtful landscape photographs for a long time. He says, “My feeling for landscape was born in the backseat of the family car, in the frustration of a young boy who wanted to stop and explore what he saw out the window far more often than his family was willing to do.” As a graduate student at Yale studying literature in the 1960s, Frank showed some of his photographs to Walker Evans (who was teaching in the university’s art department at the time). Walker encouraged him to take his interest in photography seriously. So he did.
At Tusen Takk, Frank will be printing a body of work of great personal significance to him: photographs of apple trees in the wild apple forests of Kazakhstan. Biologists believe that domestic apples are descendants of Malus sieversii, the primary species of apple that grows in the ancient fruit forests of the Tian Shan mountains of Kazakhstan. Frank traveled to this remote region of the world to photograph the last remnants of the wild forests which once blanketed the east of Kazakhstan from north to south; and now it’s time to print that work.
Dale Trumbore, Music Composition
Dale Trumbore is a composer and writer based in Southern California whose music has been praised by The New York Times for its “soaring melodies and beguiling harmonies.” Trumbore’s compositions have been performed widely in the U.S. and internationally by ensembles including the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Modesto Symphony, Neave Trio, Pacific Chorale, and Pasadena Symphony. How to Go On, Choral Arts Initiative’s album of Trumbore’s choral works, debuted at #6 on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart.
The piece Dale will be composing while at Tusen Takk, A Calendar of Undoing, is a twenty-four movement, concert-length work commissioned by Seattle-based chorus, The Esoterics, for an anticipated premiere in Fall 2022. With poetry written by poet Barbara Crooker, the piece explores the effects of climate change in the frame of a calendar year, with movements that begin in January and end in December. The piece calls for reflection and action (both of which she says are integral to the topic of climate change), with refrains and call-and-response portions involving the audience.
Jinwon Chang, Visual Art: Painting
Currently based in New York, Jinwon Chang (b.1967, South Korea) studied Korean Traditional Painting in South Korea and moved to New York in 2004. He earned his M.F.A. at SUNY – New Paltz University, New Paltz in 2006. He was invited to major residency programs, Gwang Ju City Museum Artist residency in Beijing, China in 2013 and Bellevue-Saal Artist Residency, Wiesbaden, Germany in 2015. He has been exhibiting his works in major galleries and museums including Marshall M. Fredericks, Dennos Museum, and Wayne State University Museum. His works are collected by Wiesbaden City Hall, Wiesbaden, Germany, Gwangju City Hall, Korea, and more. Jinwon Chang is represented by Waterfall Gallery in NYC since 2011.
At Tusen Takk, Jinwon will continue to expand his In-Between series of work that centers on “visualizing the light that symbolizes the spirit, the truth, and the beauty of God’s creation.” The “light” that Jinwon describes is the light that is written about in Genesis 1:3, the light that creates our time, space, and the world. In contrast to many painters who concern themselves with how light is reflected in nature, Jinwon is interested in “the light that is in itself, the light that is in God.” While here, he aims to paint works that reveal the light and true beauty of God’s creation in Northern Michigan, bringing “healing and revealing the beauty that has been hidden within the place and within nature.”
Joseph Labate and Laura Lafave, Visual Art Collaborators: Photography and Drawing
Joseph Labate is an Emeritus Professor of Art in the School of Art at the University of Arizona. He was the Chair of Photography from 1996 until 2014. Labate has a B.S. in engineering from Clarkson University, a B.F.A. in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and an M.F.A. in photography from the University of Arizona. Labate is a recipient of a Visual Arts Fellowship from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an Artist’s Grant from the Contemporary Forum of the Phoenix Art Museum and an Artist’s Grant from Polaroid of Tokyo, Japan. He has exhibited and taught photography nationally and internationally. Laura LaFave was born in Washington, D.C. She has a B.A. in psychology from the College of William and Mary, a B.F.A. in painting and drawing from Arizona State University and an M.F.A. in painting and drawing from the University of Arizona. She has exhibited regionally and nationally. She had a career in education and served on the Arizona Commission on the Arts for eight years.
At Tusen Takk, the artists will generate work in both their collaborative and individual practices, making work as they have done together in the past while inventing new ways to collaborate, explore, and experiment. They are most inspired by Lake Michigan as a new subject matter and plan to take full advantage of the digital printing studio and the painting studio.
Ahavani Mullen, Visual Art: Painting and Sculpture
Ahavani Mullen is a visual artist working in a variety of media—constructing paintings and sculptures which have evolved from silence. Rooted in a contemplative journey that spans over two decades, her work navigates a space between the seen and the Unseen. Ahavani has been awarded fellowships and residencies at the Macedonia Institute, Vermont Studio Center and Hypatia Trust. She is honored by having received awards for her work from James Rondeau, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as multiple grants from New York Foundation for the Arts, 3Arts, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Illinois Arts Council. Recent solo exhibitions include those at CIRCA Gallery, Gallery 1871, Olivet Nazarene University, and One River School of Art + Design. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums nationally and internationally, and is included in numerous private and public collections. Born in Minneapolis, MN, she received a B.A. from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. Ahavani is currently based in Chicago.
At Tusen Takk, Ahavani says she will continue her exploration into the ways in which “energy and vibration can be made visible.” Her method will be guided by selected audio, likely recordings of Lake Michigan, that will “build surfaces for two or three-dimensional works… allowing the materials to act as a recording agent without human interference.” In this way, the work will unfold “in tune with the inherent qualities of the audio and any natural elements present at the time, favoring outcomes created by gravity and time.” The final work could take the form of a temporary outdoor installation shared with a wider audience via its documentation.