These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 3

Headlands is home to many wild creatures, and not just the Artists. You’ll find furry beasts lounging in the hallway sun patches; big cats stalking the parade ground; and other non-human, non-terrestrial friends stopping in to say hello. Occasionally, our Artists even find themselves in unexpected collaborations—sometimes it’s easier to let the animals have their way.


Sheila Ghidini (AIR '93)

A sculpture of a house made of bread

Sheila Ghidini, “Dwelling: an installation of two houses,” 1993


A humorous story of an unanticipated—and uninvited—collaboration during my residency:

My residency project at Headlands began in the kitchen. Much of my work is site-specific  and my initial experience of the place began in this space where everyone gathered for meals, camaraderie, and long conversations. The idea of “breaking bread” and the new wood-fired bread-baking oven (newly installed by Ann Hamilton) set this project in motion. Dwelling developed into two houses: one constructed of loaves of bread made in the kitchen and one constructed of brass bricks made in the studio. Since I began building the bread house early in the residency (at this time residencies were nine months long), an unanticipated collaboration began to take place with the small creatures living in and around my studio. Two veins of ants and several mice began to visit the bread house. To protect the ant veins, I made safety cones enframing the edges of the pathways, so that during open studio the ant highway was not destroyed. Most visitors stepped on the ants, killing them. I also tried to distract the mice from boring holes in my sculpture by offering other bread loaves around the edges of the space.

A sculpture of a house made out of brass "bricks," reflecting another house sculpture.

Sheila Ghidini, “Dwelling: an installation of two houses,” 1993


Ultimately, neither action interrupted the bread house dismantling. The brass house of the same dimensions was built as a metaphor for protection and healing.

Wild Visitations

A small bobcat in the grass

Bobcat, photo by ocean (AIR ’18).


A small Bobcat in the grass

Bobcat, photo by Karen Schubert (AIR ’13): “I remember my Headlands summer often—how much I wrote, interviewed, read, and published; the rich conversations with my housemates and other artists-in-residence and my continuing friendships with them; the long and gorgeous walks around the bay and the delicious, fresh meals. Endlessly grateful.”


Kim Karlsrud (COMMONStudio, AIR ’17), recalls: “Laura [Sanders (AIR ’17)] had set up a game camera in the open field behind the mess hall, the kind that snap photos of wildlife late at night. After a beautiful Damon dinner (and some wine) we snuck down as a group and pretended we were wild animals—it took her a week to find it. We thought it was hilarious.”

A black and white photo with various deer and bobcats caught in a camera flash

Laura Sanders, composite of game camera photos.


A large brown dog lying on a wood floor, its head within a ring of photographs

Meghann Riepenhoff’s studio companion.


Meghann Riepenhoff (AFF ’12–’15) shares an email that circulated in 2014, when Headlands was, apparently, in the midst of a standoff with some wild turkeys. “I sent this to my entire family,” Meghann writes, “because I felt like it illustrated the vibe where I was getting to make art: very strange and wild and wonderful:

Several visitors and staff members were attacked by aggressive turkeys yesterday! I think it might be mating season. They were hanging around in front of 944 yesterday afternoon. Might be worth letting the artists know, with a special note to anyone with young children. It was funny at first, but they really look like they could give you a good pecking. If a turkey is aggressive towards you: Make loud noises, threaten and swat at the turkey. They hate water! Don’t feed them!”

A large turkey with a fan tail

A turkey at Headlands (it is not known if this is the aggressive turkey in question).



Deborah Stratman (AIR ’17): “These STAR PEOPLE landed in the headlands while I was in residence. I captured their visitation and they will be appearing this winter (2023) along with some other unusual guests in the forthcoming film Last Things.

A group of people with bright stars (a visual phenomenon made with reflected light) in front of their faces.

Starlets, left to right: Caryl Pagel, Anna Moschovakis, Angela Willetts, Phillip Andrew Lewis, Lauren Strom-Berg, Mary Lattimore, Nicolas Mastraccio