2020–2021 Solo Retreats
I went into the Cabins solo residency feeling weighed down with uncertainty about my work in progress and about being an author-illustrator in general. The Yuba County cabin provided a beautiful, calming space outside of all those pressures. It helped me focus on the story I wanted to tell and rediscover the energizing feeling that comes with figuring out how to tell it. Not only was it an escape from the distractions and demands of everyday life, it was the perfect place to find inspiration and clarity. The creative life can be a hustle, but it's the incredible generosity of this community and wonderful opportunities like this residency that make it doable. I feel refreshed, lighter, and ready to keep working! - Author and illustrator, Booki Vivat (Yuba County, CA)
Our residency was a gift of time-- it's so rare that either of us feel confident to claim the time we need for the work we’re most passionate about, and the Catskills retreat made it easy to do so. Being able to be physically together for a week to chew on complex topics—it’s not the same as having a scheduled Zoom meeting. The stories in Bodies have so much nuance, and I believe that our story will be able to meet that bar because of the time and space The Cabins and our host, Dasha, provided for us to be together. - Allison Behringer + Caitlin Pierce of Bodies podcast (Catskills, NY)
My time during The Cabins Haystack Residency was, perhaps, one of the most fulfilling of my writing career thus far. Not only was I provided with individual space to pursue my writing, but the surrounding environment was spectacular. I engaged daily in outdoor meditations, hiking nearby trails, and exploring the quaint town. The Haystack Residency also gave me something I hadn’t expected: a reminder that I get to decide who I am. It sounds cheesy, but I’ve been searching for identity for a long time, and in fact, it is at the heart of the memoir I worked on while in residency. Pursuing this leg of my writing career showed me I am a person who is adventurous, free-spirited, and worthy, which are all things I have discouraged myself from believing for far too long. By the end of my residency, I felt clearer about my writing process and where my books are heading, even landing on an ending for my memoir. Plus, I learned how to light a killer fire (something I had never done before)! The hardest part was saying goodbye, especially to my buddy Chester- the residency cat. I am deeply grateful for my experience with The Cabins and it is an experience I would recommend over and over again to any artist. - Writer Caroline Shannon Karasik (Norfolk, CT)
SCENE FROM THE ICEBOX
by Unattended Bags
End of winter, 2021.
INT. LIVING ROOM WITH VAULTED CEILINGS OF RAW
WOOD, SEATING DRAPED IN VIVID TEXTILES, ART
EVERYWHERE. TWO CATS CURL ON THE FURNITURE, ONE
BENEATH THE CHESS TABLE, THE OTHER ON THE CHAISE
LONGUE. A FIRE BLAZES IN AN ENORMOUS STONE
FIREPLACE. THROUGH THE LARGE, PANED WINDOWS,
SUNLIGHT POURS IN, CASTING LONG SHADOWS. A
TEENAGE BOY SITS ON THE SOFA PRACTICING CARD
TRICKS. TWO WOMEN SIT AT A DARK WOOD DINING TABLE
DRINKING TEA. (Testimonial by way of a screenplay continues...)
- The creative collective, Unattended Bags (Litchfield County, CT)
As a playwright and avid traveler, the pandemic forced me to stay in one spot geographically for longer than I can remember being in recent years. When Courtney and a generous board member teamed up to offer a solo residency to me, driving a few hours away to new scenery and space felt like the artistic reprieve I needed in this strange and confounding time, and ultimately helped me immensely in moving the creative projects forward I had felt recently stuck on. I cannot recommend The Cabins solo residencies enough!
– Playwright and former Cabiner, Anna Fox (Lincoln, MA)
The Cabins residency is a true gift for a creative person: productive, bucolic, and energizing. My book is in a much happier place because of it.
– Writer, Chloe Caldwell, (Lincoln, MA residency)
The Cabins residency was just what we needed for our projects and well being. It was a great Covid-safe option, and the property owner was a great host- Sebastian let us keep to our work but was always there in case we needed anything. And the area was so beautiful- I went on a few runs and walks and we got out and explored the town a couple of days. It was the perfect location because it was remote enough to feel away from everything but still close to towns, grocery stores, etc. I can't think of any improvements!
As a writer and pianist, I value the constraints of artistic disciplines. The rules of essay structure, the scaffolding of poetic styles, and the mathematical arrangement of notes into chords into music, are the forms by which my art can function. Being in residency within the constraint of strict public health guidelines and the construct of the democratic election process during the most volatile election cycle in modern American history felt like stepping into a mirror of the art-making process itself. The joint residency between The Cabins and The Resort LIC proved to be a generative environment for my creative practice. Catherine and Karl are committed to art, full stop. Not just their own art, (Catherine is a writer and Karl is a filmmaker/podcaster), they are committed to the art being made in community. So serious is their commitment that even a pandemic can’t stop them from supporting others. I am beyond grateful for the special care they showed throughout my residency, which continues to nourish my projects after I’ve returned home and continue my work. - Poet Kristen Leigh (The Resort LIC post-election residency)
Summer 2018 Collaborative Retreats
There is a special alchemy involved in creating the singular experience that is The Cabins, and Courtney is a master alchemist. The location, the people, the delicious treats, and local artists opening up their homes all made for a special, and expectation-defying, weekend. It was such a pleasure personally, and artistically, to build a fast, easy, and intense bond with our group of artists I never would have met otherwise. The cozy quarters and master classes created an intimacy and trust that quickly supplanted any potential nervousness in an unfamiliar environment. Not only would I do this weekend over and over again, I am pretty much convinced that I should move to Norfolk.
– Writer and comedy producer, D. Arthur
Many artists feel a constant pull to produce new work, to immediately follow one idea with another that’s even more brilliant. What I love about The Cabins is it centers on essential parts of the creative process that are often undervalued—collaboration, open-mindedness, and restorative lulls. Courtney, her family, and the community generously share their rural haven with artistic souls searching for inspiration and breathing space to reconnect with themselves. No hyperbole—The Cabins was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. Honestly? It's better than a dream.
– Storyteller, Kat Noel
The Cabins is almost an ineffable experience. You have to be there, go through the exciting, trepidatious steps of meeting new artists in the idyllic setting that is Norfolk, Connecticut, and determine what the Master Classes, the connectivity with the other artists and nature mean for you. What I can say is that The Cabins gave me a new community of inspired and inspiring artists, and renewed energy for the projects I’m working on. Courtney and her partner Diego are amazing people, and The Cabins residency Courtney founded is a very good thing. Simply, my testimony amounts to: go to this artist residency – it’s incredible how it can change you and how your presence and art can affect other people.
– Record label owner and musician, Jeff Lane
What Courtney has created with The Cabins is unlike any other residency I have encountered. While most residencies are for one type of artist, or for artists from a variety of disciplines working on their crafts in separate spaces, Courtney brings together groups of people from a variety of creative backgrounds for the sole purpose of collaboration and learning. By giving each individual artist the opportunity to teach mini-workshops to the fellow group members, we each had the chance to lead, to follow, and to try something new. In our free time, we swam in the lake, cooked group meals, or had a bonfire. The nine of us bonded immediately, and much like I felt at summer camp as a kid, I know these eight other artists will continue to have an impact on my life far beyond the five days we spent together. If you are a creative individual who doesn’t feel defined by a singular label, who is eager to strengthen your skills in a variety of areas, and learn about areas you may have no prior experience in, then I seriously suggest applying.
– Playwright and performer, Anna Fox
The Cabins was a transversal experience, filled with small details. One wouldn’t probably imagine to end up learning or planning an encounter of the sort with that specific artist or practice in advance. Despite the feeling of flowing through the masterclasses, actually informal and intimate not leaving space for hesitation or competition. Parallel lives form themselves within a community arranging itself through the retreat days and a great sequence of social gatherings, having the participants welcomed and get into a community of artists and arts and culture persons who live Norfolk and surroundings in closeness.
Courtney’s fulfilling energy, motivation and impulse to bring together this cast of artists, writers, musicians, actors, pulls you through these different moments.
One realizes after some talking, that some have planned to produce a completed work during the period of the retreat, others simply decided to leave open space for a few days of non-scheduled activity in their practice, others were compelled either to start to practice together or to engage in nature walks. Through the days, groups folding and unfolding, and collaborations arising for the last day’s final performance. I found myself experimenting in a bedroom to sing in collaboration with an unplanned poetry act/poetry reading, with music I was carrying in my research bag. All this co-habited activity between The Cabins makes it an experience of different levels of activity, unpredictable encounters and eventual completion, not that usual in residency programs.
There can be a possibility for sure to rebalance your practice with the closeness to other practices, which the Master Classes provide, leading you to processes which you wouldn’t probably search for or predictably face. That makes the retreat not only a possible interchange between areas, but puts it in motion while engaging in learning processes. The surprise of combining, the unexpectedness one embraces - one has to be ready for that when choosing to apply - how can you get it, if you open yourself to that, to operate with someone you wouldn’t likely meet, brings a potential for better social living.
– Actress and curator, Elsa Aleluia
I was along with the very first group that came to The Cabins in the Fall of 2016. It was absolutely the best experience ever! So, then I decided to go for the second round, I was a bit tentative, because how could anyone possibly top THAT? Well, Courtney Maum could. She’s done her magic again! I can’t recommend The Cabins highly enough, be the lucky one, go for it!
– Artist, Dasha Ziborova
The Cabins is still reverberating. Connection and collaboration potential is picking up speed. The residency was a time to stand on tiptoe in the middle of such profound and simple beauty. Oh, that every creative could find this kind of respite. The hospitality was humbling. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
– Singer and performer, Minton Sparks
I loved my time at The Cabins, up in Norfolk. The surroundings were picturesque and the atmosphere was quiet and serene. The lake and nearby wilderness make for nice escapes, where I went kayaking, swimming, and running.
Courtney does an incredible job curating the weekend, with participants from different disciplines who, nonetheless, complement each other beautifully. She also coordinates with local artists and vendors who seemed delighted to host and support us while we were there. There were many wonderful meals and lively conversations and evenings of total and extreme merriment. I loved dissecting a Polaroid picture, creating a zine, learning how to create a record label, and diving into my own story through spoken word. I can't recommend The Cabins enough.
– Actor and writer, Gardiner Comfort
The Cabins was one of the most wonderful experiences. Courtney is an exceptionally thoughtful and welcoming host. The sense of community created among everyone involved in the retreat is absolutely humbling. The opportunity to share in such openness and creativity was inspiring, and the best way to have ended the summer.
– Photographer, Thelma Harris
I loved my time at The Cabins! It was so inspiring to spend time with such committed artists from a wide range of disciplines. The master classes challenged me to approach things differently and teaching one really helped me clarify the intention of my new project. Courtney has cultivated a positive, respectful, and productive environment. She was a great host and facilitator, encouraging interesting discussions and guiding us through the difficult ones. The lodging was cozy and the food was delicious. I fell in love with Norfolk.
– Singer and composer, Kelli Scarr
The Cabins gave me the clarity to proceed with a fresh slate of projects with fresh eyes. I'm a maker devoted to my own projects and also the making of others. I found a new tribe during this retreat, people I connected with in great depths, whose inner wisdom continues to inspire my creative process. Deep thanks to Courtney's foresight, intuition, and leadership in bringing us home. This has truly been an experience like no other.
– Writer, producer and filmmaker, Faye Yuan
The Cabins was both chicken soup and ghost pepper relleno for the creative soul. Our activities shifted between work and solitude, into intense inter-tra personal exercises that spanned dance, social justice and mending. It was exactly the kind of gymnastics this brain needed in a final sprint on a second novel. Get yerself out of the routine and into the woods.
– Writer and visual artist, Caleb Garling
Spending four days with professional creatives in a cabin in the woods sounded like an appreciated break. Courtney presented a warm, inviting and inclusive place to be curious, all within a framework of learning and relaxing. The master classes were fascinating and eye-opening. Courtney and the Norfolk community came together to create a welcoming and engaging weekend.
– Textile artist, Michele Fandel Bonner
Still pinching myself. The Cabins Retreat could not have come at a more momentous time. The creator Courtney Maum is a tremendous visionary and planner and filled with every kind of care and generosity - so rare as to be surprising! And necessary nonetheless. I am very grateful to have met other artists as maverick as I am often left feeling. It was good to be in such warm company, and though there were some hairy moments of ideological difference, people were willing to work through them with grace. The accommodations were excellent and the arrangements meticulously thought through. I haven't been able to visit the woods in years and it was such a poignant reminder of how rejuvenating they can be. Personally, I was ecstatic about starting and making amazing progress on a children's book that came to me over two years back. Thank you for the nourishing head start!
– Culture worker and artist, Pampi
The Cabins Retreat was a great opportunity to meet and connect with other artists. As a teacher, I am always grateful for the opportunity to workshop and discuss new and seasoned ideas with others. I learned how great the Norfolk community is as well as Courtney in her ability to host a great retreat!
– Movement therapist and Lifeworks Studio owner, Ilana Siegal
My time at the cabins can be described in three words: inspirational, powerful, magical. There was no sense of tense competition here as there has been on other retreats, and the level of love and respect we all had for each other at the end of the weekend is unparalleled. What Courtney has created is one of a kind; a retreat where you can foster your muse and introduce it to others, a home to share with old souls, and a place to allow yourself to grow with the help of the silence around you and the warmth of the people near you. If I could cross the ocean and go every year, I absolutely would.
– Writer and LGBTQ+ youth activist, Val Prozorova
The Cabins retreat made me realize I wanted something in my artistic career that I didn't realize I was lacking. As a documentarian, I spend much more time empathizing, investigating and analyzing than searching my own soul. The retreat makes you search your soul. The experience design of letting us teach each other allowed me to learn much about soul-searching from wonderful human beings and artists, and the whole experience gave me a whole new path to search for in my own work.
– Filmmaker and radio producer, Maria Luisa Gambale
I’ve always dreamed of attending an artist’s gathering in the spirit of Black Mountain College: interdisciplinary, experimental, collaborative. Luckily, Courtney Maum has created such an experience in the deep green woods of Norfolk, Connecticut. Filmmakers, visual artists, writers and a musician gathered for four days to share our obsessions and passions and practices. We swam in a lake, shared laughs over wine and food, and channeled the energy of this small Connecticut town that has served as a summer artistic colony for almost 150 years. There’s a freedom to The Cabins but also a carefully directed intensity that has inspired new approaches to my words and work.
– Writer and social justice activist, Lisa Mecham
I arrived at The Cabins ready for a few days of retreat and creative rejuvenation. I left feeling, well, rather astonished by the generosity of spirit found among a group of eleven cultural creatives, all gathered to share in the collaborative process. In just three days and four nights, by the hand of Courtney’s inspired leadership, a community of eleven was magically forged. The backdrop was the lovely and luminous New England woods, but the soul of the weekend was found in the connections made, writers and artists exploring their passions and questions with vulnerability and transparency. Though I attend a writing or art-making retreat of some kind every summer, I’ve not come across anything with this level of heart and meaning.
– Writer and visual artist, Jodi Paloni
I've never been to a more enriching, energizing writing retreat or creative event in my entire life. I felt a teenage sense of confidence and excitement exploring the artistic practices of my fellow Cabiners and left with my creative batteries recharged. The retreat is the perfect balance of inspiring sessions -- the Master Classes -- and free time to write, immediately taking that inspiration into my own work. The setting of the retreat was also beautiful; I felt physically and creatively replenished by my dips in Toby Pond and the beautiful hikes through Norfolk's young woods. The community welcomed the Cabins with open arms. Courtney's instinctual sense for bringing together a group of people to a beautiful place with just the right amount of everything, that made for a perfect long weekend. I'd go every year if I could!
– Novelist, Catie Disabato
The Cabins offers a new space to define one’s work - a group experience that allows one to find pieces of themselves they may have lost and connect in new ways to artists and practices formerly unknown. Arriving home I feel profound growth potential in both my work and myself.
– Filmmaker and visual artist, Z Behl
Beyond every single lovely detail that made the actual four days of the retreat so special, I think what’s very incredible about The Cabins is how much the experience can’t really be contained at all in those several days and in that one place. Reflecting back on the lively discussions and questions that arose during each of our master classes, presentations, and activities is an endless source of inspiration as I return to my everyday non-retreat life and begin new projects. The challenge of thinking about the intersections between different creative disciplines and how to incorporate what we learned from each other’s practices is continually energizing and sustaining. Plus, what a warm, generous, open, and fun group of artists and thinkers. Many thanks to Courtney and the Norfolk community!
– Writer, Bonnie Chau
The Cabins was exactly what I needed at the exact time I needed it: a forum for new ways of looking at why we make art, how we make it, and who we make it for. I also found a community of artists who inspired me with their visions and who I feel fortunate to now have in my life as new friends. I'm tremendously grateful for this experience.
– Poet and teaching artist, Joanna Hoffman
The weekend I spent at The Cabins was one of the most stimulating, meaningful, (and dare I say, fun?) in my life. Courtney has a rare talent for bringing incredible people together and making them shine. It was a privilege to make friends with fellow Cabiners and local people of Norfolk.
The creative and exuberant energy of these magic two and a half days stayed with me long after I got back to New York.
– Artist and graphic novelist, Dasha Ziborova
The Cabins is a place where artists of all breeds can come together to reconnect with the joy of creating. The mix of learning, performing, and thinking made for a wonderful weekend.
– Book critic and writer, Ben Woodard
(With apologies to Thoreau) I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately... for a weekend at least. I've never been able to do an artist's retreat, because I couldn't figure out the time away from my family and day job and various other responsibilities. The Cabins was, in a word, perfect. I confess as I was driving up from the city I found myself thinking, Why in the world am I doing this? And as I left a few days/a lifetime later I thought, Ah ha, because that was exactly what I needed. Courtney put together an utterly perfect weekend, from the order of creative sessions to the amount of free time, from the dreamy dinner parties to the fun and games, from the charming lodgings to the life-changing granola. How did she do it? I'm still not sure. But I feel a strong connection with the other participants, who helped me break out of a deep creative rut. I was so rejuvenated by this weekend, and I feel energized about all my creative projects in a way I haven't felt in a long time. Anyone who has the chance to attend Courtney's magical retreat should surely do so!
– Novelist, Amy Shearn
I've been to a few residencies that span weeks or months, so when I saw that Courtney Maum was putting together an intensive, three-day artist retreat - one that embraces makers across all media - I was intrigued at the prospect of hanging with artists who didn't necessarily think like me for a short burst of time in a pastoral setting. The experience far surpassed my expectations. I met people I now consider friends, had loads of fun, and, yes, learned a lot. A deal like this has the potential for all manner of trouble. To merely avoid disaster is itself a feat. To achieve smiling satisfaction for all concerned, however, is nearly unimaginable. But Courtney did just that, and then some. Her curation, both thoughtful and playful, was in my opinion the key to her success. Do #TheCabins. You can thank me later.
– Novelist, D. Foy
The Cabins was a homegrown experience in the best sense. Courtney brought together a group of thoughtful, engaging, talented writers and artists who then quickly got vulnerable about the challenges of making art. I found it refreshing to talk about what was difficult, felt inspired by the range of perspectives that the group offered, and enjoyed the social and playful activities. Much of the magic of the retreat came from the participants, who offered creative sessions which included discussions of how the political enters personal art-making, how we can see familiar things in unfamiliar ways, and the pleasures and pains of long-term projects. We also had the opportunity to do playful drawing exercises, such as a riff on exquisite corpse.
Courtney is the best host. Extremely thoughtful, considerate of everyone's needs, and practical in planning out a short retreat in which there is still room to breathe. I found Norfolk, CT to be an ideal town for retreating: lodging, food, the forest, and pond are all within a 5-10 minute drive. Locals are friendly and welcoming, and the library is super rad.
– Filmmaker, Craig Webster
I came to Courtney Maum's amazing The Cabins creative retreat two months after having my first baby, struggling with balancing a writing practice with the demands of new motherhood. Courtney went out of her way to make the retreat comfortable and provided so much support to me and my new mom needs. She assembled an incredible crew of writers, artists, and filmmakers, and I spent the weekend laughing and thinking and making terrific new friends - and all of this happened in the beautiful natural environment of Norfolk, CT, a town I hope to visit again and again, if only to frequent its top-notch library, one of the most inspiring places I've been for writing and reading (and their collection of contemporary literature is outstanding!). After returning home to New York City, I found myself rejuvenated by the conversations and creative sessions of The Cabins weekend, and I wrote more in the following days than I had in weeks. I will carry the memories of the beautiful rustic cabins we stayed in, the mist on the lake in the morning, the magical walks in the forest, and the porcupines, herons, and other creatures that surrounded us as inspiration for years to come.
– Artist and writer, Catherine LaSota
My time at The Cabins was so thoroughly nourishing and replenishing to me as a writer I can't imagine - or don't want to! - where I'd be at this point in my process without having attended. The conversations the program generated are still reverberating in my thinking and making. Kudos and gratitude to Courtney Maum for making this happen.
– Environmental writer, Cara Benson