Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center

Integrating the Arts and Natural Sciences

Tina Deschenie & Michael Thompson

Tina Deschenie & Michael Thompson

Tina Deschenie Poet, Artist
Michael Thompson Writer
2020 Collaborative Residencies  Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation Scholarship

Our Willowtail Art Residency was a lovely gift of time and space, in the Garden Cottage, the Studio and the entire environment. My relaxed and happy soul fueled creativity and energy.

With time to reflect, I found it healing to revisit and to begin to write about trauma that I had previously dismissed.  Exploring different poetic devices challenged my usual writing style. It was rejuvenating to paint, and cut and glue down collages, as I had plenty of inspiration.

Really, I didn’t realize how much I needed this residency until I was in the middle of it.  This was the first artist residency I had ever taken. The self-care and focus on my art will surely help to free up a bit more of my confidence as an artist.

~ Tina Deschenie

Much of my life experience and writing have been intimately connected to specific places in the natural world. Willowtail’s entire environment — my encounters with deer and waterfowl and ancient trees — connected me to the land in a way that proved especially productive.

The visibly caring staff and caretakers at Willowtail created the kind of welcoming environment that encouraged both of us to make the most of our working time. There was absolute respect for our privacy and our time there.

As a Mvskoke person, my blood memories are often enriched by time spent on and near water. I was able to find that connection to my own experience in ways that surprised and satisfied me. Willowtail led me easily into a creative mindset that energized my Indigenous purpose.

~ Michael Thompson

They are both Native American, Tina is Dine and Michael is Muskogee. They have much to contribute to their community. They have both been educators in schools serving Native students.  Their work from Willowtail residency were included in the book WET: An Anthology of Water Poems and Prose published by Sharehouse Press, a project of the Montezuma Food Coalition, Cortez, CO.  Thirty regional writers contributed poems and prose on the theme of Water, some writing in their first languages as well as in English.