Observations from our inaugural artist-in-residence

Paula Carter is Hotel Washington’s very first artist-in-residence. She will be staying with us August through October. She is author of the flash memoir collection No Relation (Black Lawrence Press, 2017).  Her essays have appeared in Kenyon Review, The Southern ReviewSalonTriQuarterlyPrairie Schooner, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere

She will be gifting us with a few events throughout her stay and sharing with us some of her observations of the Island. Here is her first post!

I have been on Washington Island for three weeks as the artist-in-residence at Hotel Washington and am looking forward to being here another two months. I am coming from Chicago and the drastic change in landscape and energy means I am alert to many new things.

Some of those things:

First the dark. Only a handful of streetlights means thousands and thousands of stars. It is a whole new sky. I grew up in the country and so remember laying on a blanket with my mom and dad and brother on warm summer evenings, searching for shooting stars. The planes and satellites moving past we thought were UFOs; my father assured us they were not. But in the last decade I’ve primarily lived in the city, where the sky is not present in the way it is in the country and certainly not like it is on this island, where water and sky are a part of every vista.

Tomatoes. The week I arrived I had a birthday. My birthday wish was a pint of fresh Sungold tomatoes from Hoot Blossom Farm. Which was delivered to my door along with a serenade of Happy Birthday. Since, I’ve visited the farmer’s market and found more fresh tomatoes and have helped served fried tomatoes for breakfast at the Hotel. At this time of year, there is nothing better than tomatoes that come from a garden you know.

Also the animals. I am keeping a list of “Island Animals” and try to add a new one everyday. So far it includes the likes of Sandhill Cranes, a fox, a Luna Moth caterpillar and so many Daddy Longlegs. One of the projects I am working on while I’m here is an essay about city spiders – spiders that live on top of the tallest buildings in downtown Chicago; I feel like the island spiders are winking at me, saying, “That’s nothing, look at this!”


What else will I notice in my time here? I’m excited to find out!


–Paula Carter