In exchange for a two-week immersive experience in Acadia, artists lead one outreach presentation for the public, and donate within one year one work of art that depicts a fresh and innovative new perspective of the park for visitors that's drawn from their own experience.
Selected artists travel to and take part in the program at their own expense at the invitation of the park superintendent. An online application process is open to all, but is highly selective based upon prior professional achievement and broader program goals to foster innovation, diversity, and relevance with new audiences. A $25 non-refundable application fee benefits program operational costs, such as artist housing, and the display of art maintained in the program collection.
Three categories of applicants are considered: Visual Artists; Writers; and At-Large Participants working in such forms as music composition, performing arts, indigenous arts, and emerging technologies. Applications are reviewed by appointed juries including park staff, community members, past program participants, and subject matter experts.
While the program seeks to be fair, consistent, and transparent, the number of residencies, their timing on the calendar, and the variety of specific park locations where they are hosted, may vary significantly from one year to the next. During peak visitation, typically June through August, the quantity and complexity of artist residencies tend to be limited due to scarce park housing and staff capacity.
In their statement of objectives and expectations during the application process, artists are encouraged to express preferences for dates and locations that are necessary to achieve their specific residency goals. Final selections are determined by a combination of jury rankings, and whether program managers are able to accommodate prefered residency dates and locations of top applicants.
While Acadia is pro-family and pet-friendly, the rigors intended for the experience allow for each artist to be accompanied only by one adult companion at any given time. Wheelchair-accessible housing is available. Pets and smoking are not allowed. Local transportation is not provided.
Display and Disposition of Donated Artwork
To the fullest extent possible, all artworks donated to the program are to be cataloged online and displayed in a growing number of public gallery spaces within the park, and beyond. Each donation is to be accompanied by a brief written statement that either describes how the piece reflects the artist’s experience of Acadia, or articulates what new insight and perspective for visitors the artist hopes to convey through the piece. For visual artists creating physical pieces, size is limited to 48-inches on any side for two-dimensional pieces, and a footprint of roughly 18-inches square (324 square inches) for three-dimensional pieces intended for indoor display. Portable outdoor pieces will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Finished works must be donated with frames or cases appropriate for secure public display, transportation, and storage, and must not require permanent installation or alteration of host facilities.
Physical pieces donated to the program are not intended to be stored indefinitely, or displayed in private offices. Eventually, all physical artworks retire from the program collection by being offered without cost to other public entities, nonprofits, and park partners. Artists are highly encouraged to express preferences and to participate directly in this outplacement process. Final curatorial choices about which pieces remain active in the program collection are made internally, and will be based primarily on the ongoing interpretive capacity of each piece, and the purpose it serves park visitors in the larger collection. While artists retain ownership of copyright for their donated pieces, they are asked to grant permission for limited ongoing use to the park and its partner Eastern National for promotion, outreach, and development of program-themed sales items in park bookstores, with proceeds benefiting program operational costs.
Acadia National Park is very highly interlaced with local communities and encompasses about half of Mount Desert Island, all or part of 19 coastal islands, and part of the Schoodic Peninsula on the mainland. It was first established in 1916 as Sieur de Monts National Monument, then became Lafayette National Park in 1919, and Acadia National Park in 1929. The total area of the park now amounts to more than 35,000 acres, with another 12,000 acres of conservation easements. Elevation rises abruptly from sea level to 1,530 feet, with seven mountains above 1,000 feet. All told, it has more than 40 miles of rocky ocean coastline and tidal pools, with more than 150 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads. Its scenic and diverse landscape includes inland lakes, ponds, meadows, mixed coniferous and deciduous forest. There are more than 50 species of mammals and 300 species of birds, with surrounding waters inhabited by harbor seals and porpoise, lobster, sea stars, and other diverse fish and marine animals.