Hotel Svala by Charles Vinz

a view of the hotel from across a meadow

a view of the hotel from across a meadow

In September, I was invited to join a small and varied group of creative individuals on a tiny island in the Finnish archipelago of Åland called Kumlinge. There we joined Jannika and Sage Reed, the mother/daughter team behind Hotel Svala, to help in whatever ways we could to move forward their beautiful and unique vision of transforming an old hotel into something more. Something part artist residency, part co-workation retreat, part holiday, and very much a gateway to learning about the unique culture and history of that corner of the world.

We painted, installed floors, built a kitchen, moved and cleaned things, and made bigger plans for the future. We also ate mounds of smoked fish, cheese, and butter, swam in the bracing baltic sea, sauna'd on the shore, hung out with sheep, foraged for wild berries, went fishing, hiking, biking, ferrying, stargazing, and connected with an amazing group of individuals.

I also got bitten by ticks.

PUBLIC SCHOOL by Charles Vinz

gymnasium flooring stage/table at Hyde Park Art Center

gymnasium flooring stage/table at Hyde Park Art Center

Over the past year, I've had the pleasure of working with Jim Duignan as the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Rebuilding Exchange, which is something I'd been trying to establish since getting involved there over 2 years ago. Jim and I met over 10 years ago through AREA Chicago, and I first worked with him almost exactly 10 years ago doing a program called "How We Build" at the Hyde Park Art Center for his show Pedagogical Factory. 

Jim has been planning an anniversary show of sorts, called PUBLIC SCHOOL, which opened a few weeks ago at HPAC and runs through June 25. Watching it come together during his time at Rebuilding Exchange, as well as helping out in big or small ways with figuring some of the pieces out, has been a great learning experience.

We were able to fabricate a number of things through RX Made, including a series of very simple yet elegant stools, and a large stage/table made of reclaimed gymnasium flooring. The flooring is one of many elements meant to evoke the familiar sensibilities of school buildings and childhood.

There are workshops and programming planned throughout the course of the show, some of which I will be helping organize and participating in. 

OX BOW Fall Residency by Charles Vinz

This past fall, I had the honor and privilege to attend the Ox Bow School of Art and Artist Residency as a fully supported artist in residence for 3 weeks. I was given the time, space, and support to pursue some studio-based work that so rarely get the opportunity to work on.

I focused on exploring more fabric and textile based work, expanding on the experimental hand weaving I've been doing in fits and starts for the past few years, as well as exploring the world of natural plant-based dyes and resins. In keeping with my practice of working primarily or entirely with found and reclaimed materials, I brought no supplies with me, and spent the first several days gathering used clothing and other textiles.

Once I had a good chunk of these materials pulled together, I organized them around various "situations" based on color, form, and source to develop different narratives for each. The practice of tearing apart these discarded materials, then weaving them back together in different configurations proved revealing in a multitude of ways.

There are many wonderful things to appreciate about Ox Bow, but the two most salient ones to me are all the people involved - staff and fellow artists in residence alike - and the surrounding landscape. Set on a lagoon with dunes to separate us from Lake Michigan, daily routines always involved making time to watch the sunset, check out what other people were working on, and having a bonfire, all in a place that has been doing this for over 100 years and that has hosted thousands of artists.

Galien Residence Officially Occupied! by Charles Vinz


The single family home I designed for a young couple in Galien, MI last year became officially occupiable earlier this year. While there was still a fair amount of work to get done both inside and out, everything was there for the owners, who acted as their own GC, to move in and make it a home.

I visited back in May and took a few pictures. Hopefully I'll have some more final pictures coming soon!

MCA RECAP by Charles Vinz

Thought I'd show some images of how the MCA Family Day project turned out. The challenge of an activity and artistic process that could be engaged by people of all ages with little interpretation and only using reclaimed material was a fun one. I created 6 large looms made up of reclaimed lumber and discarded resistance bands from a crossfit gym that linked together into a 36' long zig-zagging wall that could support itself. People were invited to weave a large variety of materials into the loom. As the day progressed and the loom filled up, the materials could be squished together to create a tighter and tighter weave. Finally, after releasing the bands from the loom, everything compressed to about half the width for a surprisingly durable, and completely crazy, family day tapestry.

Photos by Eric Allix Rogers