WHAT IF THE WILDERNESS WAS YOUR STUDIO?


Wide Open Studios is Signal Fire’s arts and ecology field institute, making our innovative wilderness excursions available to college students, emerging artists, or anyone seeking an immersive, hands-on, and transformative arts education. These trips invite students to explore their studio practice in stunning wilderness locations, amidst an atmosphere of friendship and critical thinking. Our curriculum is centered on the natural and cultural histories of the sites we visit, and the possibilities of making art in— and in response to— wild places. Individual and collaborative projects invite students to see the wild as a place of wonder, empowerment, action and connection. Many of our trips are available for college credit through our partnerships with academic institutions.


“This experience has been life changing. Words cannot describe how excited and appreciative I am to have been able to attend. I don’t feel the trip will ever really be left behind, but carried with me each day.” -Zach Tittel, Columbus University, Georgia


See what else our alumni are saying about Wide Open Studios.


Direct questions about Wide Open Studios to ryan@signalfirearts.org

Join our email list to be among the first to find out about Wide Open Studios programs.



2016 WIDE OPEN STUDIOS SCHEDULE:


Wide Open Studios Summer Immersion: Unwalking Lewis + Clark

July 24 - August 20, 2016

Meet: Portland, OR

Instructors: Ryan Pierce and Kerri Rosenstein

Activities: backpacking, flatwater canoeing, car-camping, day hiking

Considerations: This course is immersive and challenging, although it is appropriate for anyone in good physical health regardless of previous outdoor experience. The trip includes backpacking in rugged terrain and unpredictable conditions. Most days will be limited to five or six miles of hiking with a loaded pack, with occasional exceptions. The course content involves an average of 30 pages of reading per day, in addition to required projects, discussions, and the demands of backcountry living. Applicants should have enthusiasm and patience to live in a closely-knit, diverse group for an entire month.

Eligibility: Anyone ages 18+. This is a curriculum-focused, workshop-style course with facilitated projects, readings, and discussions. It is intended for current undergraduate and graduate students, as well as emerging and established artists looking for a content-rich experience in the backcountry. Students have the option to take this course for 3 transferrable credits through Oregon College of Art and Craft.

Applications: January 1 - April 1, 2016

Cost: $2600 not-for-credit, $3510 for 3 undergraduate or graduate credits through Oregon College of Art and Craft (students must be accepted by Signal Fire before registering). Costs include food, some materials and supplies, camping fees and transportation for the duration of the trip.

Scholarships: Two partial ($1000) scholarships: G. Douglas Byers Memorial Fellowship and This Land is Your Land Fellowship. Check ‘Opt in’ on the application to be eligible. More about scholarships.


Signal Fire’s most ambitious course confronts the myth of the West head-on by retracing the Pacific Northwest portion of Lewis and Clark’s route in reverse direction. From their travels’ terminus near Astoria, up the Columbia River Gorge, through the Nez Perce country and the rugged Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho and Montana, culminating in a canoe trip through the White Cliffs of the Upper Missouri River, we will revisit a turning point in the conquest and settlement of the Western U.S. This month-long odyssey is comprised of both day trips and extended backpacking trips as we make our way across the Pacific Northwest.


This class combines practical guidance on backcountry travel with a series of art projects and readings designed to illuminate possibilities of making art in, and in response to, remote natural landscapes. The structure of the course is immersive: participants will travel together for the duration, embarking on a sequence of backpacking and camping trips separated by van travel and resupply. Through individual and collaborative projects of various media, participants will explore and actualize potential for relocating their studio practice, working ‘on site’ and away from civilization. Readings, discussions, and visiting scholars will invite participants to consider histories of the region, and to contemplate various perspectives on an artist's role and impact in relationship to wilderness and wildness.


The instructors will impart basic skills of preparation and self-sufficiency for safe and ethical wilderness living using the tenets of Leave No Trace. Participants will complete a significant self-directed project, integrating course content with research from the 'frontcountry.' The class will culminate in a two-day ‘solo,’ a powerful and reflective experience of solitude in wilderness.


APPLICATIONS HAVE CLOSED. TO BE CONSIDERED FOR THE WAITING LIST PLEASE EMAIL ryan@signalfirearts.org

JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST TO BE AMONG THE FIRST TO LEARN ABOUT NEW PROGRAMS.





Wide Open Studios Siskiyou Backpacking: Unwalking Jedediah Smith

June 11-17, 2016

Meet: Portland or Grant’s Pass, OR

Instructors: Julie Perini and Ryan Pierce

Activities: Intro-level backpacking, backcountry camping, and car camping

Considerations: This course is appropriate for anyone in good physical health regardless of previous outdoor experience. Moderately challenging hiking around six miles per day with packs on in a remote wilderness setting. Poison oak is common on this route— not appropriate for those with a critical sensitivity.

Eligibility: Anyone ages 18+. This is a curriculum-focused, workshop-style course with facilitated projects, readings, and discussions. It is intended for current graduate and undergraduate students as well as emerging and established artists looking for a content-rich experience in the backcountry.

Applications: January 1- February 29, 2016

Cost: $350, includes food and transportation throughout the course. $100 deposit required on admittance.

Scholarships: none for this trip.


We begin our season in a crystalline watershed of the Siskiyou Mountains. The Siskiyous, spanning the California-Oregon border, are the largest subrange of the Klamath Mountains. We’ll hike along the namesake river of famed mountain man Jedediah Smith, using his journal and others’ observations as a point of departure to discuss the complexities of a region rife with paradox. It’s one of the country’s wildest corners, yet endures ongoing exploitation by logging and mining interests. It sits at a cultural confluence of several Indigenous nations, yet most contemporary Californians consider it an unpeopled backwater. The rugged landscape may read, initially, as inhospitable, but actually boasts biological diversity like few other places on Earth.


This one-week Wide Open Studios course is a forum for artists at all levels and from all creative disciplines to immerse themselves in the possibility of making work in a wilderness context. We will cover the basics of low-impact backpacking but also dedicate time to staying put, establishing a base-camp by the river from which to hike, make projects, hold readings and discussions, and enjoy refreshing swims. Time permitting, we will also spend a night in the redwoods.


APPLICATIONS HAVE CLOSED. JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST TO BE AMONG THE FIRST TO LEARN ABOUT NEW PROGRAMS.