Writer seeks refuge from everyday life

Christina Christianson, Staff Writer

Basin,Montana: “Where there are more dead pickup trucks and cars than living people,” English teacher Tim Willey said. He spends part of his summer in a place most people would call the middle of nowhere, where he said “Main Street is a dead end.”
For two summers,Willey has attended the Montana Artists Refuge located in Basin, a small town between Boulder and Butte. The Montana Artist Refuge is “dedicated to fostering a quiet place of solitude,” Scott Clapp, the English department leader and a good friend of Willey said. It embraces artists of all different mediums from the fine arts (painting, drawing, and sculpture) to the written word (poetry and prose). It also welcomes musicians and graphic designers. The Refuge is nationwide for all ages.
To Willey, the refuge is his “quiet sacred place to work   undisturbed.”
The Montana Artists Refuge offers what is called a residency, where you are allowed to temporarily move in. Willey has taken two residencies. His first was for the span of one month, and the second was for three.
The Refuge has changed Willey. He said that it “changed [him] the first time, dramatically.”
Clapp said that Willey has always been “unique in a unique way,” but the refuge has “created a greater awareness of what literature is designed to do.”
Writing is designed to create a connection between people and “finding one’s voice,” Clapp said.
Willey said that the refuge has “affected the way I look at literature,” and “I can’t help but believe it changed the way I teach.”
Willey reflects on how it changes the way he looks at the work his students write and how hard some of his assignments truly are.
Willey gives “students more opportunities for self expression, more opportunities to be heard,” Clapp said.
“I wanted to know if I could sit at a desk and write whatever I wanted to for long periods of time,” Willey said. “And not only could I do it, but I liked it.”
Willey explained that writing is a discipline and it’s not easy.
He has had a small studio at 4 West Art League, located on the fourth floor of the Columbus Center. He uses his studio as his own refuge, where he goes to be alone and be creative.
The times Willey spent at the Montana Artists Refuge were noted as being some of the most productive times of his life.  He is now on the Refuge’s Board of Directors. He also encourages “people to write their own stuff and stick to it.”

For more information on the Montana Artists Refuge vist www.montanaartistsrefuge.org.
The Montana Artists Refuge located in Basin, offers residencies and studio accomodations to artists of all disiplines.
Artists can choose to apply for residencies ranging in length from two weeks to twelve months. The mission of the refuge is “to provide a unique and fertile setting in which to create lasting works of imagination.”