Artist In Residence Program

2007, woodblock print
Lap, 2007

Mary Brodbeck, woodblock print


Summer 2022 Program

The summer 2022 AIR program has been cancelled. Please do not submit application materials at this time. Interested applicants should return to this page in the fall of 2022 for updates on summer 2023.

Artist standing next to painting.
2009 Artist-In-Residence, Ellie Harold

I wonder whether art has a higher function than to make me feel, appreciate, and enjoy natural objects for their art value?" - Bernard Berenson

Artists have had a long-standing influence on the formation, expansion and direction of our National Parks. By painting landscapes of the American West, nineteenth century artists publicized many of the natural wonders of a land little known to eastern residents. This 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 resources of the National Park system with contemporary approaches and techniques, drawing upon the scenic, historic, and cultural elements of the parks for inspiration. These artists translate the parks' purpose as places of pleasure and preservation, into images that bring other people new insights, enjoyment and understanding.

Located in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula, Sleeping Bear Dunes stretches 35 miles along Lake Michigan’s east coast between the towns of Frankfort and Leland. Traverse City lies 25 miles to the east. North and South Manitou Islands which lie a few miles offshore are included within the Lakeshore’s boundaries.

The picturesque National Lakeshore is ideally suited for an Artist-in-Residence program. It is a hilly region fringed with massive coastal plateaus and sand dunes, and dotted with clear lakes. It is a diverse landscape, with many features derived from the glacial times when vast ice sheets covered the land. It embraces quiet, tree-lined streams, imposing beech-maple forests, and rugged bluffs towering as high as 400 feet above Lake Michigan. The National Lakeshore’s cultural history includes prehistoric use by American Indians, lake steamer fueling stations, logging, farming, commercial fishing, lighthouses, U.S. Life-Saving Stations, and other maritime activities. Because the National Lakeshore offers so many varied cultural and natural resources, it is an ideal location for creative endeavor. The beauty and serenity of the land and water are inspiring.
Tweddle/Treat Farm Painting
Tweddle/Treat Farm - Hay Barn"

Ken Richmond, Artist-In-Residence
Autumn, 1999

How the Program Operates

The Artist-In-Residence program is open to professional American writers, composers and visual artists, including photographers, whose work can be influenced and enhanced by this superb Michigan scene. It provides resident artists the opportunity to capture the moods of Sleeping Bear Dunes in their particular medium. The program provides rent-free use of a park house located in the vicinity of the village of Empire (no pets). You may also choose to stay in a campsite in one of the developed mainland campgrounds.

Two 3-week residencies are available during September and October. The artist is asked to donate to the park an original piece of work representative of their medium, produced during the residency, and to contribute to the advancement of the park's mission. This is done by sharing knowledge with the public during the final week of the residency through a workshop, demonstration, reading, slide talk, etc. In addition, the artist must be willing to interact with park visitors when contacts are made in the field while working. Donated works will be displayed in the park or shared with the public through other appropriate means. These works will characterize the Lakeshore for present and future generations.

Offering the public an opportunity to experience our national heritage through the eyes, ears and talents of the contributing artists fulfills one of the program's main purposes. The artist will be enrolled in the Volunteers In Park (VIP) Program of the National Park Service.

The resident artist may choose between two housing options. Most choose a park house, with modern amenities, including water and heat. Stove, refrigerator, microwave, and cooking/eating utensils are provided, but phone, television or washer/dryer are not. The second option is a campsite in one of our mainland campgrounds.

Weather in September and October can range from sunny and 75° to cold, wet, and windy.
Artists need to provide transportation, personal gear, bedding, food, and art supplies. Food is available in stores in Empire and other nearby towns. Some art, photo and other supplies are available in Traverse City (25 miles). Artists are expected to leave the accommodations neat and clean and to comply with all park regulations and standards governing employees and visitors.

Artists should be in good health, and self-sufficient.


Selection Process

A jury of park representatives and local subject matter experts will select from the pool of applicants. Selections will be made solely on the basis of merit and how their work can advance the mission of the National Park Service and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Selections will be made without regard to race, religion, sex, marital status, age or national origin.


How to Apply
The summer 2022 AIR program has been cancelled. Please do not submit application materials at this time. Interested applicants should return to this page in the fall of 2022 for updates on summer 2023.

Submissions to apply for the program must be postmarked or delivered to the park no later than April 15th (the postmark deadline is April 15 every year). No emailed submissions will be accepted. The selections will be made and all applicants notified by email of the outcome no later than mid June.

A complete submission includes the following items, contained in a single envelope or padded mailer:

1. Your resume of no more than two pages (four copies). Please include an email address.

2. An appropriate sample of your recent work:

  • For visual artists six images on a CD, DVD, or jump drive (please include only one copy and check that it will open). Use the file name to label the images or provide a separate list with title, medium, and size of finished work.
  • For composers, a CD or DVD recording (please include only one copy and check that it will open).
  • For writers and journalists, four copies of a brief (six-page maximum) manuscript excerpt, short story, essay, poem, or other work.

3. A statement of what you hope to gain from a residency at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and a description of how you will engage the public through your program and interact with visitors while at work in the field (four copies). Please make sure your name is on your statement.

PLEASE NOTE - We will not be able to review submissions that don't include four copies of all documents.

No submissions sent to the park will be returned to the artist.

The summer 2022 AIR program has been cancelled. Please do not submit application materials at this time. Interested applicants should return to this page in the fall of 2022 for updates on summer 2023.

Please send your submission to
Artist-In-Residence Program
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630

For more information email Merrith Baughman:

"The work of art is a part of nature seen through a temperament." - Andre Gide

Last updated: January 18, 2022

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Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire , MI 49630


231 326-4700

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