Smell the earth, feel the rain, gaze at the stars, be mesmerized by fireflies, hear the birds or the sound of your feet crunching through the woods. Participate in a FARM STAY retreat and interact with donkeys, chickens, and even the studio mate black rabbits.

Rejuvenate your design spirit and cultivate the ideas germinating inside your creative energies during a residency in the rural rolling hills of mid-south Tennessee. Flip through the pages of many design and art books in the camp libraries.


Slow down to notice the moments the flora and fauna of the earth shares with us, and the phases the sun and moon provide while you reconnect with the handcraft of the creative process. Spend time immersed in drawing, painting, collaging, and even photographic processes like cyanotype. Keep a daily journal. Let the mind wander. Make a book. Create a patch, learn to tie knots, try origami folds from your own designed patterns. Be active in playful experiments with form, color, texture, type and more in the woods, pasture, and even along the Buffalo River bed.

Dig around in the garden, build something recycled or upcycled, take a day trip to explore, kayak or hike, nap in a hammock, hide in the bamboo grove, and other forms of summer respite. Have a project in mind then mention that in the application, otherwise allow yourself the chance to make some discoveries or happy accidents through exploring to plant seeds for future endeavors. Your stay can be organic or structured. Design coach consulting formally or informally available to guide you through your project or even curriculum refinement for educators.


Embrace a PAUSE for no client work as you immerse in this mini-sabbatical.


Take a PAUSE between life as a student and life as a professional.

What's included? Furnished lodging in a private room with linens and towels, natural soaps, access to work spaces and basic tools (drills, hammers, staple gun, etc.), a Lost and Found commemorative camp poster, and a special Camp Wonder Wander gift. Options include Twin with shared bath, Full with shared bath, Queen with bunk ensuite.

What's not included? Transportation (please inquire about assistance from the Nashville airport if you are flying into TN). Food - bring your own. The kitchens are stocked with new appliances and storage areas with cooking essentials of pots, pans, utensils.


What should I bring? Shoes that can get wet and muddy if it rains. Slippers or socks since there are no shoes allowed inside. If you are interested in swimming or kayaking or just exploring the river bed, you will need shoes as the river bed is very rocky. Bathing suit and beach towel. Rain gear. Flashlight. Sweatshirt or something for the cooler evenings after dark. Your own pillow if you have a preference. Any of the art supplies you will need (the closest art store is in Nashville 90 miles away).






Coach Val

Val received her MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Florida and has been teaching design at the University level in some capacity since 1995 moving from instructor, to teaching assistant, to visiting, to tenure-track and tenured. Her most recent position she received tenure and the rank of Associate, but after 11 years there has decided to start a new life at this artist/design/creativity retreat center she has built from the ground up in the rural rolling hills of mid-south Tennessee 90 miles from Nashville where she lived from 2001-2007.

Val prides herself on being a coach and mentor so she welcomes that sort of dialogue from those participating in the residency program who are interested in receiving feedback on their work or just discussions in general about life and career path trajectories.

She is excited to work with Design Educators to help them craft or revamp new courses. She's been innovating her own courses for many years and participated in numerous teaching centered activities while she pursued the Boyer Model of Scholarship as her primary research focus for the tenure track process. Some of the innovative things she implements regularly is the concept of immediacy (ask her), creating active exercises and games (source ideas "Professors are from Mars®, Students are from Snickers®: How to write and deliver humor in the classroom and presentations" by Ronald Berk), integrating the intent of making mistakes to recognize happy accidents in the design process, learning to explore and build a sense of wonder as a creative intellectual, and has made many attempts to go beyond the 'teach the way we are taught' methodology which means drastic changes in courses like an Introduction to Design and the History of Design transforming from professor to coach many years ago. She has a long bibliography of teaching resources. It's imperative that we recognize that students are entering college with a completely different set of skills than a few years ago not just 10 or 20 years ago. Education should be changing too. Val has participated in numerous teaching workshops, attended the Lily Teaching conferences and several AIGA design education conferences, worked on curriculum, as well as participated in the East West Center Infusing Institute and a Fulbright-Hayes Group Project abroad in Egypt during the summer of the Arab Spring.

She's interested in narrative, designer as author, memory, identity with place and is looking forward to meeting other creatives to see how their work develops.

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