Written by Vicki Viall
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation is named for famed painter Robert Rauschenberg. The Foundation was created to promote and support the development of artists sharing Rauschenberg’s own passion for the arts.
Rauschenberg’s home of 40 years on the island of Captiva off the coast of Florida, serves as the site for the Foundation. The artists live in groups of 2-3 in houses that Rauschenberg purchased during his lifetime.
The residency program began in 2012. This year is only the second year of the program. And one of the select artists chosen for this honor happens to be Roosevelt County Native, William Yellow Robe.
Yellow Robe is well known and widely acclaimed for poems, stories, plays and books. He co-authored a book based on his stories titled Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers: And Other Untold Stories.
He is a member of the Penumbra Theater Company of St. Paul, Minn. He is on the Board of Advisors for Red Eagle Soaring Theater Company, which is located in Seattle, Washington.
Among the numerous awards he has won are the Special Award For Excellence in Theater, National Playwright in Residence, First Book Award for Drama, and Jerome Fellowship.
Additionally, Yellow Robe is a well known lecturer and actor, often performing in his own plays.
The honor of the Rauschenberg Residency affords Yellow Robe the incredible opportunity to exist in a semi-isolated environment with other artists creating and honing his already impressive artistic talents. He will have the chance to stretch and test his limits and to expand his creativity to new limits.
Ann Brady is the director of the Rauschenberg Residency and she graciously took the time to tell us more about the program and what Yellow Robe is accomplishing during his time on Captiva. The artists in the program with Yellow Robe come from all mediums. They include: a photographer/printmaker, a painter, a visual artist/musician, two visual artists, a designer/build and a painter.
Each participant works on their own projects. They share meals together. They spend time sitting on the porch in the evenings sharing ideas and are able to collaborate should they so desire. Additionally, while spending time on this island paradise, they are treated to a boat ride around the island and offered a chance to see the sights from the water.
Ms. Brady noted that Yellow Robe had the opportunity with another participant to see a bald eagle nest on the island.
During his time, Yellow Robe has been working on some recordings and working through his files organize and clean and revisit some project ideas.
At the end of the residency, a graduation of sorts is held. The Foundation holds what it calls Open Studio the day before the residency is concluded. The public is invited to attend the Open Studio.
Obviously, visual artists are able, obviously to display their works. Ms. Brady noted that the only other writer to have participated in the residency program, thus far, declined to participate in the Open Studio.
Yellow Robe has decided to participate and has a troupe of actors from Fort Meyers performing one of his plays that lasts approximately an hour and a half in duration. They will repeat the play throughout the day.
The purpose of the Open Studio, according to Ms. Brady, is to give the artists closure for their projects and for their residency.
If you have never had the pleasure of visiting Senibel or Captiva, trust when we say it truly is an island paradise. A perfect location for Robert Rauschenberg to create and perfect for the work his foundation carries on today. What a truly spectacular opportunity for any artist to be selected to participate in.
Without a doubt, William Yellow Robe has been changed by his time on Captiva, as have his fellow artists. Also without doubt the world will benefit from his time there as well.