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Bumpkin Island Art Encampment

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Photos of 2009 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment by Patrick Johnson (


The Bumpkin Island Land Office invites the public to participate in the 5th annual Bumpkin Island Art Encampment, a five-day public art experience in the Boston Harbor Islands national park area.

From Thursday, July 28, 2011 through Monday, August 1, 2011, five artist collectives will take temporary ownership of Bumpkin Island, a 35-acre island less than one mile off the coast of Boston's South Shore. They will:

  • Establish a home camp and live there for five days and four nights
  • Create and install/perform work that responds to the island environment, as broadly defined
  • Engage with you and over 700 visitors who will arrive by boat on July 30 and 31 to view and participate in projects.

2011 Bumpkin Island collectives and projects include:

AXIOM GROUP, Meghann Hickson, Heidi Kayser, Georgina Lewis, Nick Marmor, Evan Smith, Liz Washburn, Alexander Reben, Sarah Rushford

Axiom Group's mission is to support and encourage experimentation in the arts through exhibitions, events, educational programs and collaboration with like-minded groups in an effort to foster the development of new practices in contemporary artmaking. Axiom's multiple individual projects on Bumpkin will enact this mission as they explore the theme of restraint. From establishing a Bumpkin Island Border Control to transporting heavy-laden sculptural backpacks, each project will reflect the limitations of living in a closed system.

MEMORY VESSEL, Teaching Artist Kate Jellinghaus and youth artists Sasha Stone, Haley Smith, Autumn Yu, Allison Black, Isabelle Higgins, & Rafaela Lowe

Using the sculptural weaving techniques of random weave, coiling and twining, the collective will make a series of monumental vessels, built primarily with island resources. The artists will tap into the "memories" of the island to create powerful sculptures that contain stories (direct or indirect) about Bumpkin Island's creatures, rocks, past visitors, and flora and fauna. Though these vessels will be unfilled, the materials used will themselves carry a narrative of place and time: they will "hold" memories.  

PACKRAT, Dirk Adams, Jesse Kaminsky & Helen White

Packrat will "draw" a giant funnel-style web from unpolished cotton string. The "nest" will act as a base of operations as collective members collect and catalog one of every type of thing on the island. Each item will connect back to the nest via a simple string guide.  

POP-UP COLLECTIVE, Sarah Baumert, Meg Rotzel, Jennifer Schmidt with Ben Jordan and Peter Schmitt

Working to create a modular city in two days, Pop-Up will construct an abstracted vibrant town square. When the "tourists" arrive on Saturday and Sunday, the city starts to hum: movement choreographed by Sarah Baumert is paired with sound created by Jennifer Schmidt, as Meg Rotzel recombines buildings to express the culture of Pop. By playing as city-planners, workers and civilians, the Pop-Up collaborative creates a temporary city of production, experimentation and joy. Pop-Up is funded in part by a Director's Grant from the Council for the Arts at MIT.

TRAUBENSAFT, Zannah Marsh & Uta Hinrichs

Traubensaft will employ strategies and practices from experimental cartography and psychogeography to create a Bumpkin Island "Map Archive." Visitors will browse the collection-including maps such as a Map of the Locations of Smooth Stones, a Map of Prickly Things, a Map of Island Smells-and borrow maps to use on their island explorations. The map station will also offer visitors a "map-making kit", with materials and instructions to create their own maps. These visitor-created maps will be donated/contributed to the Bumpkin Island Map Archive for other visitors to use as they explore the Island. As part of the map making process, physical flags/pins may be placed in the environment (and carry a message or label) by the artists and participant cartographers, which refer to landmarks or symbols recorded on particular maps. The markers will alert users to the project and draw their attention to features of the island that might otherwise be overlooked.  


Mara Brod: Documentation

Using both film and digital photography, Artist Fellow Mara Brod will document the challenges artists face working as a group in a new environment with limited resources.

Hannah Burr & Stephanie Chace: Remembering Picnic

Hannah Burr, 2009 Bumpkin Art Encampment artist, returns with Stephanie Chace to facilitate a picnic that helps us remember things lost, and foods that evoke that memory. The ongoing picnic will take place Sunday, July 31, from 12 - 4pm. Bring your lunch and join the experience.

Ray Garrett, Elliot Higger, Tiffany Dumont: Catch the Light

Artists Ray Garrett and Tiffany Dumont were Art Encampment artists in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and later became rangers on Bumpkin Island. Elliot Higger is a cinematographer who has also worked the Harbor Islands as a ranger for several years, most recently on Grape. As "Ranger Fellows," the group will install a giant, off-the-grid Lite Brite, using colored pegs to harness the energy of the sun in an interactive display of light, color and shadow. 


Getting There

Bumpkin Island Art Encampment exhibits are free to all visitors. However, you have to get to the island first! The easiest, most relaxed way to Bumpkin is by special boat. Take a special boat directly from Fan Pier or Georges to Bumpkin Island, purchase refreshments on board, and avoid long lines at the dock. Round trip tickets are $18 and can be pre-purchased at

Depart Fan Pier  Arrive Bumpkin Depart Bumpkin
 10:30AM  11:30AM  2:30PM
1:15PM  2:00PM  5:00PM
 Depart Georges  Arrive Bumpkin  Depart Bumpkin
 12:15PM  12:45PM  3:45PM

You can also reach the island by regularly scheduled boat. Ferry tickets are $14 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for kids ages 3 - 11. To get to Bumpkin from Georges, there is an additional charge of $4 for unlimited one-day rides on the inter-island shuttle. For a full schedule of ferry arrivals and departures and other tips on planning your visit, go to the Boston Harbor Islands website:

For more information about the Encampment, press inquiries, and more, email megan (at) berwickinstitute (dot) org.


Berwick Research Institute on Facebook

Boston Harbor Islands National Park on Facebook

Curators and Partner Organizations

The Bumpkin Island Art Encampment is curated by Megan Dickerson, Carolyn Lewenberg and Jed Speare. This event is co-presented with the Berwick Research Institute by Studio Soto, an artist performance/screening/exhibit space in Fort Point; Mobius; the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation; and the Boston Harbor Island Alliance, a non-profit in support of the Boston Harbor Islands. 

A Brief History of Bumpkin

Bumpkin is 35-acres with slate and shell beaches. Historically, Native Americans used Bumpkin Island as a fish camp prior to European contact. During the colonial period, tenant farmers leased the island for subsistence farming. Bumpkin hosted a fish-drying operation in the early 19th century and a fish smelting operation in the early 20th century. In 1900, a Boston philanthropist named Clarence Burrage founded a hospital for physically disabled children. During World War I United States Navy took over the island as a training camp, which was dismantled after the war. The hospital reopened briefly in about 1940 for polio patients but closed during World War II and burned in 1945. Today, plants have reclaimed the physical landscape of the island - about half are non-native species, including various fruits and berries, shrubs, vines, field plants and trees. Wildflowers grow along the trails that lead visitors to the ruins of the children's hospital and a stone farmhouse. Please note: Bumpkin Island is an archaeological site. Because of this, no digging is allowed above the high tide line.

About Homesteading as a Context

In 1862, the United States recruited civilians to aid in its movement west. The Homestead Act offered any U.S. citizen or head of household, including people of color and women, free or low-cost 160-acre plots of land. In return, "homesteaders" promised to build a 12' x 14' house, cultivate and "improve" the land and live on the plot for five years. The project resulted in the creation of over 372,000 farms west of the Mississippi, continuing as late as 1976-- when the Homestead Act was officially dissolved.



The 2010 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment took place July 31 - August 1, 2010.  For five days, eight artist groups took temporary ownership of eight plots of land on Bumpkin Island. As "homesteaders," they built a shelter, lived on the land for five days, and "improved" the land via a site-specific, temporary performance or installation.   


Octopus' Garden, Marisa DiPaola

Inspired by the Hawaiian creation myth and an Eyak story, "The Woman and the Octopus," DiPaola will act as an octopus homesteader and knit found materials into a floating shoreline shelter and aquatic garden, complete with a kelp bed, urchin cushions, and other domestic amenities.

The Great Bumpkin Hunt, Ali Reid

Building on island folklore that "Bumpkins" are "little guys with glowing eyes," Reid and a cast of intergenerational family members will lead daily interpretive tours exploring the mysterious species' rise and decline.

Tidal, Ellen Godena and Nathan Andary

Tidal is a series of body-land sculptures that mimic tidal movement over Bumpkin's "gut"-a land bridge to Hull that emerges at low tide. As Godena and Andary's movements shift pebbles and stones, piles of rock will accumulate and dissipate, appearing as rolling ‘waves' in the direction of their movements.

No Place to Go or Won't You Please Walk With Me, Cara Brostrom

Brostrom invites visitors to walk with her as she loops Bumpkin's 20 acres, walking the island clockwise some 12 miles per day. Travelling a great distance without going anywhere, she will mark her progress by adding one rock to a cairn each time she passes her starting point.

Bumpkin Sky-Land, Mark Davis

Davis will delve into the mystical realm of "sky-land"-alluded to in a WWI-era ballad about Bumpkin-as he summons the island's aerial genii loci to manifest themselves in the form of floating lattice structures and shoreline fire-glyphs.

4-D Map: Portraits of Stones & Plants Found Along the Water's Edge, Sharon Dunn

Stones and monumental portraits, positioned in a circle as "offerings," will map elements of Bumpkin's coastal ecosystem, tidal life zones, foliage and geology. Visitors will access digital photos and an online journal by mobile device.

Encampment within the Encampment, Camilo Alvarez, Shalini Patel, Mike Szegedi, Zsuzsanna Szegedi, & Maria Molteni

Five artists will feed and support each other through a micro-encampment of nine distinct projects:

  • Camilo Alvarez, preparator, will install or perform works by four artists: Antoniadis & Stone, Jessica Gath, Douglas Weathersby, Cyrille Conan, Seth West and William Pope.L.
  • Mike Szegedi, engineer, will prepare a bicycle-mounted video confession booth that will travel the island collecting inhabitants' innermost feelings.
  • Maria Molteni, performer, will recreate an American myth and cryptozoological spectacle through the creation and inflation of a 20 - 30 foot "Montauk Monster."
  • Shalini Patel, practitioner, will explore ritual and engagement through two interrelated projects: the Bumpkin Island Tea Party, in which "Identitea Stalls" will provide settings for visitors to converse, drink tea and read Tarot cards, and Rain Free, the performance of creating the tie-dyed "Identitea Stalls" out of muslin, natural dyes, and island resources.
  • Zsuzsanna Szegedi, painter, will adapt to rising tides as she performs a drawing installation, suggesting outlanders' struggles in new places. Process will be captured with time-lapse video. Visitors are encouraged to participate.
PROJECT FELLOWS: Kalmia Strong, Bumpkin historian, will lead tours of Bumpkin's diverse history and operate the Bumpkin Historical Society, offering artists and visitors a library of on-site background information. David Tamés, documentarian, will film the Encampment and then make the footage accessible to the public, working with interested collaborators to develop a participatory documentary on the project.


2009 Projects, Artists, & Documentation

All documentaries directed and produced by Patrick Johnson.

Ebb and Flow, Kate Dodd
Twice a day, half of Bumpkin disappears with the tides. Kate Dodd will use colorful surveyors' tape and found materials to highlight the island's dramatically changing boundaries and draw provocative parallels to the island's shifting social and human terrain during five days of homesteading.

Bumpkin 06 - Ebb and Flow from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

Empty - Full, Hannah Burr
Hannah Burr will create an empty, open, rubberized shelter that represents the exact volume of all her possessions, from vehicle to spring-form cake pan. Through a "stuffless" physical manifestation of all we leave behind, Burr's ghost form and accompanying performances will grapple with place, comfort, and the impermanence of worldly goods.

Bumpkin 03 - Empty Full from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

Everything Arrives, Everything Departs, Heather Kapplow
In collaboration with other tested, devoted visionaries, Heather Kapplow will cultivate a temporary sect focused on improving the quality of psychic life on Bumpkin Island. Each sectarian's mission (to gain increased knowledge of their true purpose on Bumpkin so that they may properly serve even the least discernable participants in this year's homesteading community) will be accomplished through the performance of ritual acts; the making and wielding of ritual objects and narratives; and through recruitment of new members.


Bumpkin 08 - Everything Arrives, Everything Departs from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

The Midden Map, Mark Davis and Kalmia Strong
The Midden Map engages with Bumpkin's biography and the creative transmigration of trash. A topographic model of the island, composed of recycled refuse, will materially record the 2009 Encampment while illuminating Bumpkin's geological and architectural past.

Bumpkin 07 - Midden Map from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

42° 16' 52.00" N 70° 53' 15.4" W, Stephanie Cardon, Courtney Lockemer, Marc McNulty
A.R.R.G.H. (Artists for Research, Reconnaissance and General Hijinks) will engage in five days of sculptural and performative piracy on Bumpkin Island. By blurring the line between originator and artist, the pirate-provocateurs explore the benefits of protecting one's creations versus making open-source artwork.

Bumpkin 05 - A.R.R.G.H from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

Dragonflies and Angelwings, Sharon Dunn, David Tamés, Alice Apley
Created as homage to the children of the Burrage Hospital, three- to five-foot tall, brightly-colored, winged dragonfly drones that will fly over the vicinity of the island, illuminated at night. During the day, images of the night's events will replay on a solar-powered screen as evidence of energy, time-shifting, and traces.

Bumpkin 04 - Dragonflies and Angelwings from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

Bumpkin Island Gamelan, Brendon Wood, Raymond Garrett, William Conley
Drawing from the Indonesian tradition of the gamelan, a percussive ensemble built and tuned to stay in one place, composer Brendon Wood and artist Raymond Garrett will construct ten to fifteen instruments from materials found on the island. In process, all designs and concepts for the instruments will be determined by the available materials. During public visitation, visitors and artists will form a gamelan ensemble to perform a specially written composition twice each day.

Bumpkin 02 - Gamelan from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

Orchitecture, N51/N52 (Gabriel Cira, William McKenna and James Sannino)
Nourished by a physical and conceptual diet of apples, N51/N52 will build and disperse up to a dozen cairns that will chaperone a new genetic crossing of native apples and introduced species. By approaching hybridization as a both scientific and spiritual endeavor, the scientists of Orchitecture will use their bodies, pataphysical methods and the natural features of Bumpkin to transform the island's future.

Bumpkin 01 - Orchitecture from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

Project Fellows 

Documentary filmmaker Patrick Johnson ( joined the artists for the duration of the project, documenting their art and experiences for the five days on Bumpkin Island.

Multimedia artist Ali Reid became Bumpkin's official "postmistress," facilitating communication among artists, curators and visitors by delivering messages written on official Bumpkin Island correspondence stock. Through her role as official go-between, Ali became privy to island news and gossip, and generated a temporary informational exhibit that highlighted the "bumpkineering" experience as it happened.

Bumpkin 09 - Postmaster from Patrick Johnson on Vimeo.

Artist and chef Sarah King McKeon designed a welcome dinner for the eight artist groups, interpreting ideas of homemaking and welcome on the first night of homesteading. 

For more information or press inquiries, contact 

Bumpkin Island Art Encampments 2007 and 2008

View the 2008 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment booklet (pdf)

For documentation of the 2007 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment, please visit


2009 Boston Globe coverage

2008 Boston Globe Gallery

The Boston Globe Feature

The Boston Phoenix Review