Artists return to Goldwell in Rhyolite


This time no one wandered out of the desert disoriented, exhausted, and dehydrated—just curious tourists looking for directions to the Rhyolite cemetery.

Last week marked the second Goldwell residency at the Red Barn Art Center at Rhyolite for Jill Baker, Megan Berner, Nicole Donnelly, and Jennifer Meridian. One lives in northern Nevada, one in Oregon, and two in Pennsylvania.

The four interdisciplinary artists, former classmates in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Iowa, got together once more to collaborate and feed off each others’ creative vision and energy.

The women combed the desert near the Red Barn, gathering objects, including bits of plants and rusted and broken bits of artifacts, which they used as inspiration and subjects for various forms of art—charcoal drawings, cyanotype sun prints, photographs, video, and more.

Meridian, who lives in Pittsburgh, said she found Rhyolite “an extremely inspiring place to work and very generative of ideas. Coming from the East Coast, I don’t see a lot of this kind of landscape—geological vs. industrial.”

All the artists praised the “great work space” of the Red Barn, but said there was more to the place. Berner, who hails from Reno, described working in the Red Barn as “so immediate—you just walk out, and the materials are here. All of us at some time have gone out and done the work on the desert floor.”

They said that their time at the Red Barn was very special to them. Of this second residency, Berner said, “It is a continuation of our time here—feels as though we never left.”

The artists will assemble an exhibit titled “Desert Notes” from the work they did and began during their time here. It will be shown later this year at the Sierra Arts Foundation in Reno and the Left of Center Gallery in North Las Vegas.

Richard Stephens is a freelance writer living in Beatty.