The Adventure Begins in Crater Lake
What an understatement! The actual path to these two plus weeks as the Artist in Residence began long ago. As I retired from teaching, moved to Durango and built up my Chase the Light Photography Adventures, I planned and envisioned a life of travel, art, photography, and exploration. One of the dreams I’m pursuing is to spend serious time in our National Parks, as a Resident Artist. Many of our National Parks have an application process available to established and emerging artists. The program offers time and accommodations in the most beautiful places. These are not paid gigs in the formal sense, but a real opportunity to spend quality time and follow my bliss.
In 2013, I began the process of research and writing necessary to apply. The first priority: establishing a timeline for applications, organizing site specific portfolios, writing essays and gathering letters of recommendation.
Here’s an online site listing all the National Parks offering art residencies.
After review of each Park’s program and taking a look at my motivations to be at a specific park, I set deadlines and began writing proposals. Each application is a challenge to write, demanding of time and is a huge commitment, requiring a thorough examination of my portfolio for the “right” kind of images to send. Most of the applications require a 1-2 page statement of intent, a small sampling of 4-8 images, letters of recommendations, and curriculum vitae. And all applications include a proposal for the project to be completed during the residency.
The residencies provide an opportunity to devote 2-4 weeks’ time in a cabin or other rustic accommodations, time devoted to making art, and sharing that process with visitors. Artists chosen for this prestigious and competitive award are also required to make a public presentation while at the park, and to donate one piece of art within a year of their residency.
A list of current and past applications:It helps to be “thick skinned” and not take the application process personally. Just as with juried exhibitions, there is a standard of excellence in the level of artists applying, and the “right” person for each residency, the right image to fit an exhibition theme. Some review committees will provide comments, while others just don’t have the time to respond to the more than 250 artists competing for a few residencies a year. This process is highly competitive and responding to deadlines and following the procedures is imperative. One reviewer told me that the additional letters of recommendation I submitted were cumbersome and too much for the committee to read. Other park’s do not respond other than a letter of thanks (no, I’m not calling it a letter of rejection)
I’ve applied to all the following:
- Acadia NP
- Crater Lake NP
- Glacier NP
- Grand Canyon NP
- Great Basin NP
- Great Smoky Mountains NP
- Isle Royale NP
- Joshua Tree NP
- North Cascades NP
- Petrified Forest NP
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
- Zion NP
And in 2015 I’ve been offered residencies at Crater Lake and Acadia. I gladly accepted. I have submitted 2016 applications to Joshua Tree, Durango Arts.org, and will meet the deadline for Zion in July. In 2016 I was offered residencies at Bighorn Canyon in Wyoming, Glacier National Park, in Montana and Mesa Verde in Colorado.