Artist-in-Residence Program

Painting of the northern lights over Isle Royale National Park.
Northern Lights. 

Jennifer Williams, Artist-in-Residence, 1998


Artists in National Parks

Isle Royale National Park's Artist-in-Residence program provides professional artists, working in all mediums, the opportunity to become a part of a long-established tradition of artists in our National Parks.

Artists have had a long-standing influence on the formation, expansion, and direction of America's National Parks. By painting landscapes of the American West, artists publicized many of the natural wonders of a land little known to the eastern populace. Their body of work helped to stimulate the establishment of many of our National Parks and to foster a continuing appreciation of them.

Today's artists continue to document the landscapes of the National Parks with contemporary approaches and techniques, drawing upon the site's scenic, natural, and cultural elements for inspiration. These artists translate the park's purpose - as a place of pleasure and preservation - into pieces that bring other people new insights, enjoyment, and understanding.


The Isle Royale Artist-in-Residence Program

The program provides three or four artists a two to three week immersion in Isle Royale's wilderness environment each season. This immersion provides time for the artist to connect to the many moods that only a Northwoods wilderness can provide.

The park provides an isolated rustic cabin in Tobin Harbor on the northeast end of Isle Royale near Rock Harbor, and the use of a canoe at no cost to the artist. Complimentary transportation to the park is provided on the National Park Service vessel Ranger III, a 165-foot ship operating out of Houghton, Michigan.

During the residency, the artist will be asked to share their experience with the public by demonstration, talk, or other means. The presentation will depend on the artist's medium, interests, and experience, and will consume a few hours of their stay. The artist is required, within a year, to donate a piece of work inspired by the island. The donated piece will offer the public an opportunity to experience our national heritage through the artist's unique interpretation of Isle Royale.

Sponsors for this program include Isle Royale National Park, the Isle Royale & Keweenaw Parks Association, and the Copper Country Community Arts Council. The artist will be enrolled in the National Park Service's Volunteer-in-Parks program.


How to Apply

There will most likely be a new process for the 2018 residency. When finalized (expected late summer 2017), new information will be posted.

Open Period

The Application period for the summer 2017 residency was open: January 2 through Feburary 16, 2017. To be considered, applications must be postmarked by the closing date.


All applicants will be notified by May 1 of the application year regarding selection for the program.

Become an Isle Royale Teen Artist

The Isle Royale Teen Artist Exploration is open to all aspiring teen artists who want to develop their art through experiencing wilderness. This program is open to all visual and performing artists, writers, and composers ages 13-18 at time of participation. Guidlines for submitting applications are typically updated in the fall and early winter of the previous year.

Last updated: September 26, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931


(906) 482-0984

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