This year the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial. As we move into its next century, parks are looking towards the future and exploring ways to engage young people in national parks and the arts. Since the late 1800’s, national parks and art have had a special relationship. Early-day artists accompanied many of the expeditions that explored the American West. These artists documented their discoveries in paintings, photographs and prose, and played a key role in influencing congress to protect many of our national parks. In honor of the significant role that artists have played in the creation of national parks, in 1984 Rocky Mountain National Park established the first Artist-in-Residence Program in the National Park System. Today over fifty national park areas have Artist-in-Residence Programs.
This year Rocky’s Artist-in-Residence Program will celebrate the National Park Service centennial by hosting three professional artists and three youth artists. Two of our youth artists were recently selected from a Statewide Student Art Celebration Contest organized by the Estes Park Environmental Center in partnership with Rocky Mountain National Park. As part of the celebration, our third youth artist, Rocky’s first child Artist-in-Residence, has been invited to return for another residency.