Find Your Park Through Art
I am a printmaker, environmental sculptor, exhibit designer, writer, photographer, graphic designer and museum professional. I just completed an eight year tenure as Director/Curator of an exceptional museum in northern New York founded by Alice T. Miner in 1924. These days I travel – drawing, photographing, running, biking and hiking in some of the most inspiring places in the country, and I am currently creating a series of woodblock prints celebrating our national parks as part of my Find Your Park Through Art campaign.
For many years I have made a living as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator. Although I once owned my own gallery and studio, and may again in the future, for now I have chosen to prioritize working with people through teaching, creating art, and studying/re-creating my current surroundings in favor of pursuing my art in the more traditional sense of creating pieces for sale in the “art world”. I believe this direction will bring me closer to the essence of the creative process. Mine has become a literal and figurative journey, exciting and fulfilling through it’s components of travel and direct connection to the things in this world that inspire me, and with the by-product of confirming that gallery shows and exhibits needn’t necessarily be the primary means to define an artist’s work. For the near future, as our national parks commemorate their 100 year anniversary, my theme has become Find Your Park Through Art. To help draw attention to the Find Your Park initiative I will be creating artwork in numerous national parks. Through Artist-in-Residence programs, I hope to partner with other artists to help emphasize this theme by holding public events at which we will draw, paint, photograph and create artwork in the parks themselves.
Throughout my life I have cherished our national parks. From long trips as a child traveling with my family in a VW bus to my current open-ended journey, I have wandered the parks – committing them to memory and re-creating them on paper. When I am able to take the time to more fully comprehend each place and the significance of its past-present-and future, I then begin to interpret many of its gems in my artwork. Indeed much of this new awareness occurs through the very creative process itself. As an artist I hope to “translate” park resources into images that enhance others’ enjoyment and deepen their understanding of public lands, and in the process perhaps even stimulate more interactive and protective practices among the millions of visitors to our fantastic natural and historical wonders.
“It’s just flashes that we own, little snapshots made of breath and of bone… And out on the darkling plain alone, they light up the sky”…
During residencies in the national parks I make sketches in preparation for creating woodblock prints, interacting with visitors as I work. My public presentations include demonstrating the printing of a woodblock, or visually explaining the process of creating woodblock prints through lectures/multimedia presentations. I also hope to have others join me for a day of Find Your Park Through Art – during these events we will draw, photograph, create environmental sculpture and/or paint in the park together. A large component of this time will be offering tips and tricks, helping younger artists, and sharing different facets of our love of the park, and of art in general. Later we will gather again to share and discuss what we have created and explore how public lands can inform and inspire our art. I make my living as an artist while maintaining a more humanistic approach to my public. Teaching art and inspiring others has long been a goal and a passion for me. My primary inspiration is to live within the art itself, and to help others do the same.
The opportunity to pass time with my sole occupation as artist-in-residence has been an invaluable experience and inspiration for my art – it allows me long stretches of time within the parks to work on creating drawings, environmental sculptures and prints. Deadlines also push me to focus more fully on my surroundings and on drawing and printmaking. I hope to learn the flora and fauna of many of our national parks, and by slowing my pace and observing the daily and weekly changes from the broad scope of the landscape to the tiny details of things, I will find what most inspires me and create drawings from those ‘snapshots’ in my mind and in my camera.
For many years I have worked to interpret a museum collection for visitors of all ages and backgrounds – always managing to find common ground from which to foster enthusiasm and closer examination/interest in what they are seeing and learning. My experience and love of interpretation lend themselves well to being an artist-in-residence – I am able to connect and converse with whomever I meet as I draw or create prints in the parks.
Art can open people’s eyes to new and exciting perspectives on the places they visit. It is my hope that artwork, created during residencies, will act as a two-dimensional ambassador for the parks and waterways I interpret. There is power in the connection artwork can help to create between visitors and nature – and this further connection will be a boon to any park or open space. Through art I believe we can reach whole segments of the population of visitors who may not connect as intrinsically to their surroundings and who may find their own niche through combining art and time out-of-doors. Take the teenaged boy who has his nose buried in a video game… I guarantee he will look up to see what I am working on – he will look around – he will take it to heart. There is something magical to young people when they see someone working on art in a public setting… It spurs their imagination! That experience in turn allows them to observe their surroundings on a deeper level to discern what might be so special… And it makes them wonder if this could be part of their future.
My Find Your Park Through Art campaign will be repeated at other national parks and I will spread the word through my public presentations and posts to my blog wanderartist.com. I have already helped to inspire others to take up this campaign and will be presenting a weekend with two other artists at Bighorn Canyon in the autumn with the title ‘Find Your Park Through Art’. We will work in the park together for two days with other artists from the public who choose to join us. It is my hope that this idea will catch on and will help others to embrace the Find Your Park campaign and to visit their national parks. Upon completion of each park residency I will donate one print to each park – offering them each a unique artist’s view of the park and it’s resources.
My residencies have included:
Homestead National Monument of America (spring 2015)
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (autumn 2015)
Guadalupe Mountains National Park (spring 2016)