Deborah Eddy (Artist-in-Residence, 1998)

Artwork shows a lush green forest with a tree trunk on the right, and a few orange lilies in the foreground
"Observation #1, Isle Royale", 6” x 6” soft pastel painting, 1998

NPS/Deborah Eddy

Isle Royale Reflection

"Isle Royale is one of the most memorable places in my life; I miss it still. The three weeks of my residency, away from everything and everyone I know, concentrating on my art, was a treasure to me. Exploring such a beautiful place intensely, in such a limited period of time, caused heightened awareness. So much can be accomplished in that state.

When I first learned I would be an artist-in-residence, I studied the maps and the literature and believed I could thoroughly explore the entire island while creating a large group of paintings all in my allotted time. Reality, and confusion, struck immediately upon my arrival. I spent the first few days hiking all over my end of the island. I canoed in the cove. I needed to discover the essence of Isle Royale in order to portray it to others. Time was short.

Pushing past some fear, I decided to canoe to the nearest small island. It didn’t seem too far away and I could see that it had a landing beach. This trip proved to be a breakthrough. My “discovery” of Smith Island, a miniature version of Isle Royale, clarified my observations of Isle Royale. My first painting was done on Smith Island.

My presentations to park visitors also proved to be invaluable to me. Answering questions posed to me drew out the observed information I had not yet recognized. I realized the most important elements of Isle Royale: the lush forest, the white light, the pervasive rocks and roots, and the yellow-green color all around. All of these represented the visual essence of this place to me. Also, the respect and interest shown by the audience was an honor that continues to support my work.

One surprise of my residency was the rock sculpture/collage that I created on the beach at the bottom of the trail to the cabin. This project started by accident on my first day and finished on my last. It began when I placed a rock, marking the beginning of the trail. I was having trouble finding the trail in the dark and hoped this marker would help me get home. The sculpture grew from that rock, to cover a large section of the beach on either side of the trail. If I had had more time I might have rearranged the entire beach! Creating this work was totally unexpected and thoroughly enjoyable. I’m glad that a part of me was left behind on the shore."

- Deborah Eddy*


About the Artist*

Deborah Eddy was an Isle Royale Artist-in-Residence from July 1st to July 23rd, 1998. She was born in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, and raised in Syosset, Long Island, New York. She graduated with a B.A. in Art from Pennsylvania State University and has lived in Santa Cruz, California, since 1972. She has written several books, including a book of poems and illustrations, Left to Plant More Lights in Technicolor Greenhouses. She makes her living selling her paintings as well as antiques and collectibles.

All of her work is done on location and each painting is a composite of the days spent at the site. “I am most interested in revealing the experience of being present at each site. I intent to cause viewers to ‘discover’ the place of the painting, to see it for the first time and then take that way of seeing into their daily lives.”

*[Source for all Deborah's page content: Root, Robert and Jill Burkland, editors. (2000). The Island Within Us. Houghton, MI: Isle Royale Natural History Association. p 122. Print.]

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Last updated: December 18, 2019

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