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Artist-in-Residence. Great Benefit National Parks Offer to Painters, Sculptors, Writers and More


This painting was created by Eric J. Meyer, an artist from Illinois who was one of Denali's artists-in-residence in 2006. NPS photo.

National parks often are looked upon as places of not just great beauty, but also great inspiration. So it's only natural that they should spur the creative juices of writers, painters, sculptors, and other artists. And that's the idea behind the artist-in-residence programs that are spreading across the National Park System.

Denali National Park and Preserve just announced its 2009 Artists-in-Residence, and for the first time the list includes a writer. Joining John Morgan, an award-winning Fairbanks author, in this year’s Artist-in-Residence program at Denali will be artists Bill Brody and Karin Franzen, both from Fairbanks, Alaska, and Gail Niebrugge from Palmer, Alaska. They were selected from over 50 applicants from throughout the United States and abroad.

There was a strong interest in the Artist-in-Residence program this year, which included applications from artists as far away as Azerbaijan, South Africa, and Suriname.

This year’s artists will each have the opportunity to experience and be inspired by the park for a ten-day period between June and mid-September. During their residency they stay in the historic East Fork cabin, located south of the Park Road at Mile 43. This site is itself a source of inspiration, as it looks out onto the braided tracts of the East Fork River, the multi-colored rock formations of Polychrome Mountain, the snow-capped peaks of the Alaska Range, and the lush tundra of the Plains of Murie.

Here's a glance at the four winners:

* John Morgan was invited to be Denali’s first Writer-in-Residence, which expands the Artist-in-Residence program at Denali to include non-visual media. He moved with his family to Fairbanks in 1976, where he teaches in the graduate Creative Writing program at the University of Alaska. He has published three books of poetry, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, The New Republic, and in many other magazines and anthologies.

* Bill Brody is an artist and printmaker who obtains inspiration for his work from the wilderness landscapes that he has been able to explore over the years. The sketches, journals, and photographs he makes during his explorations are source materials for paintings, prints, and very large-scale works on forged and carved copper and bronze. He is a professor emeritus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Art Department, and he is known for his innovative work on the Body Language User Interface project at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center at UAF.

* The work of fiber artist Karin Franzen is widely known and she has been in several important international and national exhibitions, including “Quilt Visions 2008: Contemporary Expressions", "“Quilts of the Pacific Rim”, and “Made in Alaska.” Her work revolves around one of her favorite subjects, the birds of Alaska. Ms. Franzen uses the skills honed over a lifetime: drawing, mathematics, structural design, sewing, an understanding of biology, and business acumen to create her work.

* Long-time Alaska painter Gail Niebrugge is known throughout the world for her use of pointillism, small-dot like strokes, in her work. A five-time winner in the National Diabetes Association’s Holiday Art Search, Ms. Niebrugge’s artwork has appeared on hundreds of thousands of Christmas cards sold nationwide to benefit diabetes research. She has completed seven major public commissions in Alaska, including a ten-panel multi-dimensional artwork for the U.S. Customs in Skagway. She was the first artist-in-residence for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and is the author of “Gail Niebrugge’s Alaska Wildflowers,”a book about her thirty-three years of work focused entirely on Alaska.

"We are pleased to be able to offer artists of this caliber with the venue to immerse themselves in Denali,” said Superintendent Paul Anderson. “What they create from their experiences in the park will be a source of inspiration to all who have the opportunity to view or read their completed works.”

Each of the artists will offer a public presentation for visitors during their residency. Each will donate a piece of artwork to the park’s art collection that was inspired by their time out in the park. The pieces donated by artists-in-residence from previous years are on display in the Denali Visitor Center and the Eielson Visitor Center, which opens for the season on June 1.

The Artist-in-Residence program is a national program that enables established artists to reside in a park while they create park-related art. Artists have played a significant role in raising public awareness of the natural wonders preserved within the National Park System and the need for their protection since the creation of Yellowstone, the first national park. This is the eighth year of the Artist-in-Residence program at Denali National Park and Preserve. Twenty-three artists, including 13 from Alaska, have participated in previous summers.

The application process for the artist-in-residence program will be completely online. Applications for the 2010 season must be submitted by October 31, 2009. Visit this site for more information and to apply.


This is a article most worthy of positive comment that reflects the true spirit of the National Parks through the eyes of the poet, the writer and artist. Better to see more paint brushes in the parks then guns...and more guns. Good story Kurt!

Disappointed to learn that Yellowstone doesn't have an artist residency program.  The first national park should be the first place an artist thinks of to paint or express art.

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