Artist In Residence Program

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

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.

Download a copy of the Artist-in-Residence brochure (pdf file).

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.

Painting of the View from Empire Bluff
"Empire View of Sleeping Bear"
Oil over acrylic

Larry Vienneau, Artist-In-Residence
September, 1999

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

Submissions to apply for the program must be postmarked or delivered to the park no later than April 15th (the submission are due on April 15 every year). 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 (4 copies). Please include an email address.

2. An appropriate sample of your recent work:

  • For visual artists eight images on a CD or DVD. Please use the file name to label the images or provide a separate list with title, medium, and size of finished work.
  • For composers, a cassette, CD or DVD recording.
  • For writers and journalists, 4 copies of a brief (6-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 (4 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.

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

For more information contact Susan Sanders:
e-mail us

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

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

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


(231) 326-4700

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