An artist painting the park with several visitors watching
2014 AIR Karen McClain demonstrates her work at the Two Eagle Interpretive trail in Mustang Flats.

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Program History

Artists have been capturing the natural world around us for centuries as a way to share and inspire others to learn more about our natural spaces. Thomas Moran’s paintings and William Henry Jackson’s photographs of the mysteries of Yellowstone helped to inspire congress to set aside that land as a national park. Since 2014, Bighorn Canyon has hosted many amazing artists and photographers that have helped to record the history of this landscape.

Artists are invited to become part of the Bighorn Canyon Artist-in-Residence program. Managed by the Interpretation Division, this program is relatively new to Bighorn Canyon, but not new to the National Park Service. It is one of the longest running programs in the National Park system, and the work completed under this program contributes to the public understanding and appreciation of our national parks, creating a legacy preserved for future generations.

The creation of this program is a directive of the National Park Service’s Call to Action, Bighorn Canyon’s Long Range Interpretive Plan, and a way to creatively increase public awareness and to inspire the continued preservation of Bighorn Canyon’s resources. But more importantly, it is a time for artists to slow down, experience the canyon and make a lasting connection with the place.
Amanda demonstrating block printing
2015 AIR Amanda Palmer demonstrating block printing during the Find Your Park Through Art event

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Bighorn Canyon will be taking applications for the 2024 season. The park is looking for four artists to participate in 2024. Applications will be taken from November 15, 2023 to January 31, 2024.

Artists in this program will be able to discover and interpret Bighorn Canyon through their own creative projects. Writers, sculptors, musicians, composers, photographers, painters, culinary and performing artists are all welcome to apply for this program.

To apply, artists must submit a resume and a letter of intent via email to Christy Fleming, Interpretation and Education Division Lead ( The letter should include why the artist is interested in helping to preserve Bighorn Canyon’s resources through their work, a rough idea of when the artist is available, one reference, and photos or online links to their work.

Park staff will review the applications in February. Selections are made and announced in March. Specific dates for residences are dependent on housing availability and will be discussed with the artists once they are selected.


Housing at Bighorn Canyon is limited and artists in this program should be comfortable living and working in remote settings. The North District, located near the small community of Fort Smith, has a convenience store, gas station, some outfitting services with accommodations, and a post office. Hardin, 42 miles to the north, has a hospital and all other necessary services. The South District, near Lovell, WY, (population 2,000) has a hospital, schools, supermarket, convenience stores, motels, and gas stations.

Housing is limited

Available housing dates are: March 27 to May 13, and September 18 to November 4. During the summer months, artists may bring their own RV and a camping site will be provided.

Length of Residency

Residencies last for two weeks. The exact dates for the residency are flexible and could occur during any time of the year. However, extreme weather in the winter months could prohibit artists from being in the field.

Participation in the Program

After reviewing the artist’s application, park staff will notify the artist if they have been selected. At this time park staff will work with the artist to choose a date for their participation in the program and discuss the need for housing. No living stipend is given for this position. After selection, artists will need to complete a volunteer form prior to their residency.

Commitment to Public Presentation

The Artist must agree to present a minimum of one public program and must be willing to informally discuss their work with visitors at their work site. Opportunities for presentations and the type of presentations vary. Interpretive staff will work with artists to provide presentation opportunities that fit with the artists’ interests.
Painting canyon views at Dayboard 9
2016 AIR Daniel Crowe painting at Dayboard 9

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Artistic Themes

To ensure the Artist-in-Residence program helps to promote the fundamental ideas, concepts, and inherent meanings of Bighorn Canyon, it is important that the artists understand the park themes and that their work and programs reflect those themes.

Theme 1: The vast, wild landscape of BICA offers modern visitors unparalleled opportunities to immerse themselves in the natural world and experience the wonders of this extraordinary place.

Theme 2: The 120,000 acres of land and water in BICA display an astounding diversity of ecosystems supporting hundreds of species of plant life, birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Theme 3: Bighorn Canyon, the river, and the surrounding environment are a vital part of the ancient and living culture of American Indians, including the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Shoshone, Blackfeet, Arapaho, Lakota, and other tribes of the region.

Theme 4: The lives and stories of the 19th and early 20th century settlers of European descent in this region illustrate the challenges, changes, perils, and personalities of America’s “wild west” frontier, with legacies that live on in the lifeways of their 21st century descendants.

Theme 5: Through the ages and into present day, the water resources of the Bighorn River, lake and watershed represent a vital, life-giving force in a tough, challenging environment.

Theme 6: The ancient cliffs and exposed rocks of Bighorn Canyon provide a fascinating geological record of earth’s changes over many millions of years, as well as significant opportunities for archeological and paleontological discoveries.
3 AIR works exhibited as part of a larger NPS exhibit at the Wyoming State Museum
Artist In Residence works part of the Wyoming State Museum on the National Parks in Wyoming.

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Promote Your Art

After they complete their residency, artists may donate one piece of original work to Bighorn Canyon. Artwork that can be displayed should be provided in display-ready format.

In 2017, Bighorn Canyon completed a new Artist-In-Residence Gallery in the auditorium at the Bighorn Canyon visitor center. AIR works currently are being displayed at the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne. Bighorn Canyon continues to build partnerships in the art community so these works can be shared.

Sale of Artwork

Artists will not be allowed to sell their artwork to the public during or after public presentations, but may be able to sell at the visitors centers through consignment with Western National Parks Association (WNPA). Sales for the consigned work will be split in the following ways: 60% to the artist, 20% to Bighorn Canyon AIR program, and 20% to WNPA. Artists are encouraged to share their website and contact information during or after public presentations.

Contact Information

For more information, call Christy Fleming at (307) 548-5406 or email at

Last updated: October 31, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area South District Visitor Center
20 US Hwy 14A

Lovell, WY 82431


307 548-5406
(307) 548-5406 is the South District in Lovell, WY. (406) 666-9961 is the North District in Fort Smith, MT.

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