Profiles of Residencies

Caleigh Bird

3D Oil Paintings

Caleigh is an artist who uses nature as inspiration, subject, and objects within her work. Her 3D paintings are examples of her evolution as an artist from her childhood, to school, to travels, and various skills and experiences along the way. Caleigh utilized her just over a month residency as an intentional transition from life in Hawaii for several years and back to the mainland. She was so busy that we crossed paths only with intention. Caleigh balances her life in front of a computer developing her YouTube channel and coaching instruction on social media, with physically creating art and documenting her methods, to being physically in the land taking advantage of the numerous hiking and exploring areas at the camp and nearby sites. Caleigh a few weeks in exclaimed she was so excited to be accomplishing so much during her stay. As the Covid-19 pandemic became more prominent in the states she also experienced some tech issues. Before she departed she completed a mural as her contribution to the creative space. Check out the two videos of our conversation on her last day. Thankfully she will be back again.

Lee Schauer

Chalk Pastel

Lee Schauer's primary goal for her 2 month residency is to complete several large size paintings with oil pastel as a collaboration with her daughter who wrote a children's book about a beaver that tormented the family over a summer season. Lee completed several portraits of the chickens that star in the book as well as self-portraits and one of her daughter. She also got inspired to update a portfolio and evaluate artist statement.

"I often wonder about the mechanics of seeing and marvel at the buffer between physical reality and how our brains make sense of it. What are the cues that help us see space and dimension? How does our brain distinguish between positive and negative space? What happens when negative space is given as much attention as the objects that create it?

In my work I often parse out and highlight the shapes and spaces in between. I play with flattening and enhancing, challenge myself to see beyond what my brain is quick to recognize, and give form and substance to parts of the world that most often go unnoticed."

Her residency was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic where she had to step back into real world and assist her kids in their exits from college closings. She will return hopefully in the fall to finish her project. And that will give her another season on the property. One of the inspirations she had was walking to the river and then painting.

Miriam Salah

Graphic Designer

Miriam is from Cairo, Egypt and in grad school outside of Chicago, Illinois. She spent 13 days in the summer of 2019 for her residency to focus on writing the framework for her thesis. With a background in both graphic design and food as a trained chef, she spent her time reflecting on her project to date with prototypes of a toolkit about food and design thinking. But it's a secret until she actually publishes. We had a couple of days to explore including visiting nearby Florence for lunch and a visit to antique shops. On her final day we visited the Frist Museum of Art in Nashville prior to her final night in Nashville. We hope to see Miriam again and wish her well in her thesis year. In an interesting twist of fate, Miriam and I looked at a map of Zamalek neighborhood in Cairo where Val stayed during a Fulbright-Hayes group project was just a block away from where Miriam lived at the same time!

Jeremy Blair


Jeremy spent a month on his residency working on botanical photograms that require a portable darkroom that he has set up outside the residency house. He spent his days wandering the property and venturing to the nearby towns exploring looking for artifacts and natural objects to integrate into the pieces. He is experimenting with various light sources, light quality and development processes engaging in embracing the happy accidents that arise such as drops caused by sweat from being inside his darkroom tent or squiggle lines caused by tiny light holes in the tent. At the culmination of his residency, he shared that he had made more than 120 images that would have possibly taken him years to do in a normal life routine. He also had a creative breakthrough with his experimental portable darkroom and created his best piece in the 10 years of pursuing this creative path. Congratulations to Jeremy on his progress and the eventual solo exhibit he created with the work from this and his second residency of the summer.

Sarah Schmidt


Sarah spent 10 weeks with us in April through early June 2019. She brought her best friend Beck who was a joy every time I saw him. Sarah created several pieces that were the largest she had ever done and is well on her way to a body of work to approach galleries for a solo exhibition. Towards the end of her time she created a few smaller pieces that would dry a little bit faster to pack up for her drive back to Crested Butte, CO. You can follow Sarah on her Instagram sarah.schmidt_art and view her portfolio here.

Danielle Wolffe


"This place is like sinking into a big bathtub. I thought I wouldn't be able to live remotely, but this place has spirit and energy that has allowed me to focus on my project."


excerpt "I watched the orange tinted moon rise in the yard, illuminating the bamboo grove.  The sweetness of being awake, outside in the warm night air, was a gift. I felt it again, the preciousness of my freedom. Silently, I repeated their names: Machelle, Kimberly, Nicole, U’Dreka, Laisha, Kenya, Jennifer, Justeen, Sheena, Roxanne.

Since launching this project interviewing women around the country sentenced as teenagers to die in prison, that sudden awareness has stricken me, occasionally, at odd moments—when I opened a refrigerator or sautéed garlic in a pan, when I put on brightly colored clothing or got up at midnight to pee. Freedom is tenuous, a privilege so many are routinely denied.

I set off on the road nearly a year ago, in lieu of permanent residence to have the logistic mobility to really delve into this project. The work has been a great teacher as my relationship with each woman moves from an initial letter, to phone calls, and in-person conversations our paths becoming intricately entwined."

JT Taylor


"Before I came to Camp Wonder Wander, I struggled to write. My day-to-day life seemed to be backing my focus and I didn’t have the time or energy to tap into my creativity. After my first night there, the next morning I got up, ate breakfast and had coffee, and just magically sat down and started writing. It stayed that way for the full 7 days I stayed. 


Val was a big part of the experience for me. She’s a wonderful host, and she gives good counsel about moving forward with whatever art form or whatever life goal you’re trying to reach—she’s what they call “an old soul.”


I suggest taking some breaks and visiting the beautiful surrounding area, as well. The swimming hole was a fantastic experience—calm, clear water, refreshing. You get into nature and you just can’t help but focus.


In my time there. I wrote a full single-spaced 40 pages my book and 7 poems—amazing. And I didn’t tap out, either because Val was there to take me on breaks. 


If you’re feeling like something is missing. go to Camp Wonder Wander. Don’t think too hard on it, just go. 


J.T. Taylor

Orlando, FL

J.T. returned for 2 weeks in 2018. See a collection of her social media posts to the left. She asked for some assistance in learning how to cook. You'll see an array of the evening meals that we shared. Simple and healthy.

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a glimpse at JT's social blog about her residency

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