Matt Olson’s Rauschenberg Residency

If you had to imagine the place in which you might do your best work, where would it be? Would it be a quiet, remote island? Would it be poolside? Would it be in the company of a dozen other creatives, spurring you on? What if the answer were all of the above? That’s how Matt Olson of Minneapolis’s ROLU studio spent the last month of his winter, engaged in a residency on Captiva Island off the Gulf Coast of Florida, on a massive estate that was once home and studio to Robert Rauschenberg. Olson was part of the residency’s pilot program, which invited artists from different disciplines, all over the world, to spend a month making work, building a community, and generally inhaling the Rauschenberg aura. We spotted this diary by Olson on the Design/Miami blog about his time there, and had to share.

“I’ve just returned from a monthlong Robert Rauschenberg Residency that I accepted on behalf of ROLU. I lived and worked on his estate at Captiva Island off the coast of Florida. The thirty acre property contains seven houses, the 9,000 sq. ft. studio pictured above, a swimming pool and tennis court, a world class chef, the ocean… and most importantly, Rauschenberg’s expansive, gentle and hopeful spirit seems to be everywhere you look. I love saying “I’ll never be the same” after a significant experience because, on some level, it’s always true. But in this case it’s deeply true. I’ll never be the same.”02-fish-house“The Fish House is probably the most iconic location on the estate. A truly magical place. It’s the only non-internet zone on the property which was helpful. I spent a lot of time here writing the first week and not having the option to check email and Instagram, and it made writing so much easier.”03-fish-house-office“This was my ‘office’ in the Fish House. The writing I was doing was for a group of museum directors who were having a symposium at the Aspen Institute called “Propositions for the Future of the Art Museum.” They commissioned me to make a workshop for them to kick things off and set the tone. I made a piece that was part book, part film called ‘Chasing After Something That Hasn’t Happened Yet‘… the point of it was mostly about them using love as a compass to lead them into the future. It was a really intimidating list of participants and I know being here in the midst of Bob’s energy helped me find my voice.”04-patio-office“After I finished that project, the patio at my house was my office for awhile.” 05-piano-office“Then this became my office… and surprisingly, I wrote a lot of music while I was here!”06-pool-office“Then this was my office sometimes too.”07-arp-video“But I didn’t work in an “office” all the time. I also made a video for a song on the soon-to-be-released record by Arp. I collaborated with the choreographer Allie Hankins and video artist Laura Brunelliere. Totally psyched about how it turned out.”

Matt Olson’s residency diary — with lots more photos! — continues back at the Design Miami site. Click here to view it in its entirety.