Nola Studiola is a seasonally collab-curation by rotating artists of all sorts. The goal is to build community by doing what artists do best: explore place, process, and offer the findings in a spirit of generosity. We interview, promote noteworthy projects, try out pilot projects here, and reflect on ongoing or finished ones as well. You’ll find all of this among the curators here, along with talk of food. Because this is, after all, a New Orleans venture. Off or online, we fixate on food.

We start and finish in New Orleans, but as with all community building, we look outside just as much as we look inside, so our curators hail from all parts–not just the Crescent City.

How this came to be.

The First Studiola: In June of 2012, founder and intermittent contributor Alison Barker, aka Ms. Barker, left teaching and gainful employment to start an 8-week “artistic re-calibration” in which she interviewed different artists online and retreated in a friend’s apartment in New Orleans. She was looking for a way to jumpstart her first novel, the third draft burned in a fit of frustration in February of 2012. A friend died, a relationship ended, as did a job and a lease. burn novelShe was looking for community, but also solitude. She was looking for inspiration, but focus. The prompt for the online blog project: how do artists navigate community and solitude in a generative way? Aside from a dog named Stella, the best stress-relief and source of community seemed to happen around making and eating food. And in southern Louisiana, this foodie found culinary inspiration every which way, often from fellow artists. How do the culinary arts inform process?

‘Studiola’ is a play on the Italian  ‘studiolo’. Renaissance men of nobility had studiolos–little hiding places set apart from the grand foyers and busy meeting rooms filled with the bustle and pomp of daily life. When need be, men of means ensconced themselves in studiolos, which were filled with their books and treasures.
IMG_0896On June 15, for two months, Ms. B. put her phone and email (a.k.a. bustle and pomp) away. She communicated largely by letter or over home-cooked meals she made in the studiola–ok, after a while, meals largely consisted of manchego cheese and scotch.

The air conditioning was minimal. It was hot in the studiola. It was hot, and for the most part, Ms. Barker was alone. But she comforted herself with digital visits from people like chefs Amanda Hesser and Martha Rose Shulman, novelists Lidia Yuknavitch and Drew Ervin. You can find all of their interviews by clicking on the drop-down menu “Visitors.”



In September 2012, the Nola Studiola returned as Nola Studiola Redux: a Collaborative Curatorial Project in which different thinkers curate a month of the Studiola, and navigate the balancing act of community and solitude in their own unique ways. You can find the dates of their posts under their name in the drop-down menu called “Curators.”

Welcome. We hope you find what you’re looking for.

15 thoughts on “About

  1. Alison, I’m sorry to see you leave your teaching position (as you were an exceptional teacher) but I understand your motivation for such a bold change. You are an inspiration!


  2. Address. I’m going to need an address for the snail mail. And I have always admired your courage in striving to be a writer. Not a teacher who writes, or a writer who teaches, but a writer. Admire and am a little jealous of. We all choose our adventures. This one is awesome. And a little cray. Like the fish.


  3. You’re an inspiration. And you got Lidia Yuknavitch! I’m jealous that you’ll even be writing her!
    Also: You were amazing at the Columbia reading!


    1. Thanks, Sarah! I appreciate your support. I’m so glad I made it to New York for the Columbia reading. I’ve never attended a reading for a journal launch before, and it was really special.


  4. This looks awesome, except for the lack of a/c.

    I left teaching, too. I feel so free, not because I disliked it (I actually loved it), but…I guess it was just time.


    1. Hey Jane-
      Thanks for stopping by! The AC, it turns out, works *really* well. And I am not complaining at all about that. I have a tendency to think I want to do something Spartan to myself and then realize, no, no actually, I don’t. Long live AC.

      Yes, about teaching–it’s a funny love affair for me. I find that I still think about new ideas sometimes in terms of “how will/should I teach this?” and sort of automatically, my brain wants to generate leading discussion questions….I am looking forward to experiencing how thoughts might change when the lesson plan structure isn’t guiding my days as much.


  5. I love this! I’m excited to explore the site more. I know Frankie, May’s curator, and when I saw this posted on her facebook, I was curious about it in part because of the “nola” part of the title. I’m from New Orleans but have lived away for quite some time, and I always appreciate hearing about what is happening in the literary community in New Orleans. Especially so because I know I’ll land back home eventually. Many thanks again for a beautiful project. I look forward to peeking through the archives. Thanks, Lisa


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