Projects > Stillwater Arts Collective

Stillwater: Performance Art Library and Refuge, Michael Barrett, Performance Art History, Montana, Stillwater
STILLWATER: Performance Art Library and Refuge (Roundhouse architecture)
Performance Art Refuge

I hope you will join us at STILLWATER: Performance Art Library and Refuge.

STILLWATER: Performance Art Library and Refuge is a collaborative, interdisciplinary arts education project bringing together researchers, educators, historians, and artists to pilot new approaches to performance art and conservation. The initiative was developed by Michael Barrett, Ph.D. (ABD), and aims to embrace diversity and preserve natural landscapes in all their forms. Nestled in the picturesque foothills of the Beartooth Mountains, the 10.5-acre art library and refuge is located along the Stillwater River, approximately 125 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, 45 miles west of Billings, Montana, and 8 miles from the nearest town of Columbus. It seeks to be an inclusive community that cultivates an open, enlightened, and horizontal way of being within South Central Montana, and beyond.

STILLWATER is a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a not-for-profit arts service organization based in New York and is funded solely through generous donations from people like you. Fractured Atlas receives funding and in-kind donations on behalf of the library and refuge, and provides oversight to ensure that grant funds are used in accordance with grant agreements.

STILLWATER is remote, rough, and functions off the grid in a rural environment. Much like an art museum or archive, the research center performs as a supplement to higher education, university studios, and classrooms, to advance arts-based educational research, mentoring, and alternative land management. STILLWATER is situated among an international network for arts-based educational research, data collection, teaching collection, research database, preservation, and social justice.

STILLWATER facilities include a network of eco-friendly tiny homes and roundhouses designed with repurposed materials and alternative straw bale architecture. The small collection of habitable art installations serve as more than just a collection of text, art gallery, or studio. The library and refuge also serve as a safe place and beacon of tolerance, healing, and independence.

When needed, researchers often assume the role of caregivers, develop flexible arts-based research schedules, are available outside of the constructs of traditional business hours, and serve as hosts, mentors, or leaders. Researchers may, at times, present educational workshops, oversee community outreach programs, and contribute to inclusive curricula.
Examples include but are not limited to:
• Natural and cultural history observations.
• Contribute to the library by documenting additions to arts-based educational literature, cultural sites, and landscape features.
• Assist the reserve in determining the need for resources.
• Represent STILLWATER to the general public regarding the preserved landscape, art library, and residency program.
• Lead groups of artists and mentors in the field or direct the physical aspects of their investigations.
• Guide members of the public during outreach events such as art workshops and tours.
• Support on-site fundraising and donor relations efforts.

The extreme living and performance conditions require a hardcore level of personal integrity, including the capacity to nurture awareness among rural communities, research colleagues, and international artists. Unexpected storms, animals, avalanches, floods, wildfires, and road closures can result in isolation for lengthened periods of time. Of crucial importance is an elevated consciousness of well-being for oneself and the community, as this is vital when living and learning in a location far from emergency services or medical aid.

The residency program provides guests with space and the necessary infrastructure for investigating the parameters of performance art. The opportunity functions as a laboratory for experimentation with any medium in relationship to the topic. Guests are encouraged to perform collective research, including drawing of parallels between current performance and local cultural practices and attempt to locate them within historic, economic, sociopolitical, and aesthetic contexts. Presentations of work provide a springboard for discussion of theory, practical application, and critical thinking, in both historical and contemporary terms.

Significant questions and innovative solutions are often required during the unique residencies at STILLWATER: Performance Art Library and Refuge. The challenges often include a measure of difficulty that entails multiple people's services, and the use of site-specific/alternative materials to develop space necessary for being in the world. Affection for and support of inclusive community development, arts-based education, and land preservation are required. Research and residency positions for 2021-2022 are currently open, and inquiries are accepted on a rolling basis.

1. Survival Camp - A hardcore two-week performance art experience in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region of Montana. The curriculum includes but is not limited to field cooking, constructing shelter, water harvesting, alternative gardening, fire sciences, and eco-friendly land management.

2. Trading Post - A seasonal effort at sustaining a community of artists, homesteaders, and people in need or isolation. The concept is centered around bartering and a pay-what-you-can system. The available goods are at a minimum and include basic survival supplies such as water, toilet paper, ice, firewood, propane, etc.

3. Art Raft - A build-your-own raft and seven-mile parade experience down the Stillwater River.

Invitations and support letters for visa and grant applications are available upon request. Contact Barrett via email for more information.

Thank you! Please contact Michael Barrett, Ph.D. (ABD) via email for more information about how you can help support the arts initiative. Your generosity is very much appreciated and needed. Cheers!