Meet the Artists
2014 Artists and Writers
NPS Photo / Charlotte Bodak
NPS Photo / Alex VanDerStuyf
NPS Photo / Sean Proctor
2011 Artists, Writer, and Composer
Over the past few years, Stephen Lias has become increasingly focused on his activities as an adventurer-composer. His passion for wilderness and outdoor pursuits has led to a growing series of works about the national parks of the US. He has had residencies at Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Denali, Glacier Bay, and Gates of the Arctic National Parks, and has written over a dozen park-related pieces that have been premiered at conferences and festivals in such places as Colorado, Texas, Sydney, and Taiwan. His recent composition, “The Ghosts of Mesa Verde”, was premiered at the National Flute Association Convention in New Orleans, and upcoming world premiere performances include “Kennecott” with the SFA Wind Ensemble, “Range of Light” with saxophonist Nathan Nabb, and “Gates of the Arctic” with the Boulder Philharmonic. He is the founder and leader of Alaska Geographic's annual "Composing in the Wilderness" field seminar, now in its third year. Stephen Lias’s compositions are regularly performed throughout the United States and abroad by soloists and ensembles including The Louisiana Sinfonietta, XPlorium Ensemble, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin. He currently resides in Nacogdoches, Texas where he is Professor of Composition at Stephen F. Austin State University.
• Harlan W. Butt
Harlan W. Butt is a metalsmith from Denton, Texas. Harlan's unique enamel and silver vessels are inspired by a love of nature and poetry. He is a Regents Professor of Art at the University of North Texas where he has taught since 1976. He is past President of the Enamelist Society and a Fellow of the American Crafts Council. His work has been exhibited in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and throughout the United States. He has spent time studying in Japan, including a year working in the studio of master metalsmith Shumei Tanaka and at the Biso Cloisonne Company, both in Kyoto. Visit his website.
• Richard Fruth
Richard Fruth is a sculptor from Cincinnati, Ohio. Richard's sculptures have a whimsical, humor-based aesthestic and are often made out of wood, bronze and paint. Richard received a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Photography in 1994 and a Master of Arts in Studio Arts in 1998 at Ball State University, Muncie, IN. Thereafter, he pursued a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture in 2001 at University of Cincinnati. His artwork focuses on two points of interest; the narrative, such as telling stories relating of the past, future, biological or psychological. His second point of interest, focuses on the use or abuse of the English language, specifically how language becomes repetitive, negative and sometimes humorous. He is currently represented by Sandra Small Gallery in Covington, Kentucky.
• Kirsten Furlong
Kirsten Furlong is a mixed media artist often working in drawings, paintings, prints, and installations. Her work documents her experience of the intersection of nature and the ideologies that frame our cultural understanding of the natural world. She examines the relationships people have with wild and domestic animals and see her art as a diagram of these narratives. Kirsten is currently the gallery director of the Visual Arts Center at Boise State University. She is also an art department faculty member at Boise State teaching a variety of studio arts. Grants from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Boise Weekly helped to fund the residency and the work that followed. Visit her website.
• Nancy Lord
Nancy Lord, Alaska’s Writer Laureate (2008-10), holds a liberal arts degree from Hampshire College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Vermont College. In addition to being an independent writer based in Homer, she fished commercially for many years and has, more recently, worked as a naturalist and historian on adventure cruise ships. She is the author of three short fiction collections (most recently The Man Who Swam with Beavers, Coffee House Press, 2001) and four books of literary nonfiction (most recently Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life, University of Nebraska Press, 2009.) She teaches part-time at the Kachemak Bay Branch of Kenai Peninsula College and in the low-residency graduate writing program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her awards include fellowships from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Rasmuson Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, and residencies at a number of artist communities. Visit her website.
NPS Photo / Neil Blake
2009 Artists and Writer
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 (UAF) Art Department, and he is known for his innovative work on the Body Language User Interface (BLUI) project at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center at UAF. Visit his website.
• Karin Franzen
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. Franzen uses the skills honed over a lifetime: drawing, mathematics, structural design, sewing, an understanding of biology, and business acumen to create her work. Visit her website.
• John Morgan
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. Visit his website.
• Gail Niebrugge
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, 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. Visit her website.
Sukey Bryan uses her oil paintings to explore the interaction and transformation of natural elements and cycles propelled by tidal, climatic, volcanic, and tectonic forces. She has a particular interest in the taiga, and tundra ecosystems, the flow of water across the varied terrain, and the climatic cycles of the land and flora. Visit her website.
• Melanie Mowinski
Melanie Mowinski is a paper and book artist who explores patterns in time and nature through documentation and collaborations. Visit her website.
• Ron Senungetuk
Ron Senungetuk, a sculptor and silversmith whose work has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally, was invited to participate in the program by the National Park Service. He works primarily in wood and metal and is known for his abstractions of animal figures. Senungetuk was born in the village of Wales on the Seward Peninsula, and has spent most of his life in Alaska. A Fullbright scholar, he has received many distinguished honors and awards, including the Governor’s Award from the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Visit his website.
• Sara Tabbert
Sara Tabbert is a printmaker who has expanded the range of materials she works with to include carved wood, plastic, glass and mosaic tile. Her artwork comes out of her interest in the endless variety of the natural world. She has a long standing love for Denali, which she explored during her summers as a seasonal employee. Visit her website.
Janice Kasper is a painter who uses oil paints to provide poignant and whimsical portraits of wildlife and their environments. Her work reflects her passion for habitat conservation, but she also strives to provide fun and introspective images for her viewers. Visit her website.
• Sheila King
Sheila King has been making baskets for over thirty years, and has taught basketry for twenty years. She draws inspiration for her intricate baskets from natural shapes and colors.
• David King
David King is a wildlife and natural landscape artist who works with watercolors. Retirement from a dental practice now affords him the time to explore areas and paint scenery and wildlife throughout the summer months.
• Margo Klass
Margo Klass is a student of aesthetic space who creatively uses light to produce sculptural boxes. She studied Northern Renaissance artists for their use of spaces receding into the distance, and she has been influenced by the interior spaces and exterior landscapes of Japanese temples. Visit her website.
Eric Meyer is a wildlife artist who works with oils. He has painted mostly fall landscapes on his previous trips to Denali, and is looking forward to expanding his work to include the lush, green landscapes of summer.
• Ree Nancarrow
Ree Nancarrow is a quilt artist who has lived in the Denali Park area for over forty years. She chose quilting as her medium of choice in the early 1990’s because it provided an enormous variety of scale, color and texture. She dyes or paints most of her fabrics, but also stamps, stencils, silk-screens and elaborately quilts them.
• Anna Marie Pavlik
Anna Marie Pavlik creates prints by using foam plates that have been indented with pens, pointed tools or textured objects. She uses her commitment to print making to encourage others to let nature be a presence in their lives.
• Sandy Stolle
Sandy Stolle is a wood sculptor who lived in the bush of the Northwest Alaska for twelve years before relocating to the rainforest, mountains and waters of Seward a decade and a half ago. She gains inspiration from the power and beauty of Alaskan environments. Visit her website.
Linda Beach is a fiber artist who draws inspiration for her intricately pieced art quilts from her love of nature. Her work is in numerous private collections as well as public installations across the country. She is the recipient of several awards and has also been the Artist in Residence at Rocky Mountain, Acadia and Mesa Verde National Parks. Visit her website.
• Kevin Muente
Kevin Muente is a landscape painter who saw a change in his spirit and his artwork when he first experienced the powerful landscapes and large spaces of the western United States. He feels that coming to Denali is the next step in his development as an artist and seeks to share the sense of awe he has felt in these places with others through his work. He is currently the Assistant Professor of Painting at Northern Kentucky University. Visit his website.
• Rod Weagant
Weagant is a plein air, or “on location” landscape painter, who has spent the last 25 years trying to communicate the wonder and emotions he feels when surrounded by the natural world. He travels the Yukon, Alaska and the western United States painting and conducting workshops. He has had over 30 one-man exhibitions and has participated in numerous group shows. Visit his website.
NPS Photo by Carol Harding
Diane Canfield Bywaters is a landscape painter with over 26 years of experience of “on location” painting. She is currently a Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin. She has traveled extensively in the United States and abroad to paint dramatic landscapes to raise the environmental awareness of the viewer. She has been an artist-in-residence at several national parks, including Rocky Mountain, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Acadia, Hawaii Volcanoes, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Isle Royale, Glacier and Voyageurs. Visit her website.
• Patricia Savage
Patricia Savage is a painter who is passionate about wild places and the species that inhabit them. She bridges the gap between science and fine art by portraying accurate biological relationships in her compositions. She has visited Alaska twice previously, and on one of the trips was the natural history artist for a four-week coastal cruise retracing the 1899 Harriman Expedition. Visit her website.
• Jon Van Zyle and Jona Van Zyle
The Van Zyles came as a team, each bringing a variety of experience to this program. Jon has spent over 30 years in Alaska, and is well known for his paintings, prints and posters depicting the state’s beauty. He completed the Iditarod twice and in 1979 was made the official Iditarod artist, a title he still holds today. Besides creating the annual Iditarod poster, he produces numerous paintings each year for one man exhibitions in the United States and Europe. Jona’s interests include ceramics, metal casting and graphic design. She honed her sewing skills working as a sailmaker and currently works with leather and beads to combine traditional clothing ideas with a humorous Alaskan twist. She has designed logos for the Fur Rendezvous and the Jr. Iditarod Race. She has over 20 years of experience working with huskies, and has written and illustrated many articles about dog history and training for a variety of publications. Visit their website.
Rachelle Dowdy, a sculptor, is currently the Artist in Residence with the Artist in the Schools Program in Fairbanks, working with students from elementary age through high school. She gets ideas through her experiences and observations, and sees her work as a reflection of human relationships to Alaska’s landscape. She has had solo exhibitions in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Homer. Visit her website.
• David Mollett
David Mollett is well-known for his brightly-colored paintings of the dramatic scenery of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and areas in and around Denali National Park. He owns the Well Street Art Company, a contemporary art gallery in Fairbanks and was the 2002 guest curator at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. He has had solo shows throughout Alaska and his work is included in all of the state’s public art collections. Visit his website.
• Rebecca Voris
Rebecca Voris is a weaver who draws with yarn and paints with dye directly on the loom while composing an image. Her work has been exhibited in Anchorage and Fairbanks and is in the collections of the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.
Photo courtesy Missy Woodward
Kesler Woodward, the park's first Artist-in-Residence, has painted Alaska and the circumpolar North, from Hudson Bay in Canada to the Bering Strait and Siberia, for more than 35 years. An Alaska resident since 1977, his work is included in all major public collections in Alaska and in museum collections on both coasts of the United States. He is Professor of Art Emeritus at the University of Alaska, where he taught painting for twenty years before retiring to paint full time in 2000. Kesler serves as the program adviser for the Denali Artist-in-Residence program and chairs the artist selection committee. In 2004 he received the first Alaska Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, and in 2012 he was awarded the Rasmuson Foundation's Distinguished Alaskan Artist Fellowship. Visit his website.
Did You Know?
Nearly 500 vegetation plots have been installed in Denali, to monitor climate change. Warmer temperatures allow woody plants to grow at higher elevations, invading the fragile and unique plants already in high alpine tundra - and threatening the animals that depend on those specialized plants.