Artists and the U.S. National Park System
“The earth without art is just eh.” – Demetri Martin
Artists have had a long-standing impact on the formation, expansion, and direction of America’s National Park System. Painting the landscapes of the American West, 1800s visual artists like George Catlin and Albert Bierstadt helped focus attention on natural wonders and indigenous peoples. Later, sculptors and designers created numerous monuments within urban national parks – think of Gateway Arch in St. Louis, or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, designed by a then 21-year-old named Maya Lin. Beyond paintings and designers, writers like John Muir, Edward Abbey, and Nevada Barr have written poetically as well as non-fictionally about parks.
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has a rich legacy of art. In the final decades of the 1800s, Ada Camden, daughter of Charles and Philena Camden, sketched numerous scenes within what is today known as the Tower House Historic District. Later on, after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Redding residents banded together to pay for the creation of the Kennedy Memorial, a bass relief sculpture located just a mile from the park Visitor Center. Much more recently, in the immediate aftermath of the Carr Fire, Whiskeytown partnered with the non-profit organization Art from the Ashes to help local communities heal – the Seeds of Regrowth program enabled area residents to create original artwork from actually burned and destroyed objects from the fire.
To help inspire artists, to enable artists to become part of the park’s artistic heritage, and to encourage diversity within the park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is delighted to announce the return of our Artist in Residence program. We invite all types of artists to consider applying for our two-week residencies where you’ll get to camp and explore a 3,200-acre reservoir, rugged mountain landscapes, waterfalls, and practically an entire park regreening quickly after the most destructive fire in National Park System history.
How Whiskeytown's Artist-in-Residence Program Works
Selected artists are offered free camping for two to three week time periods at either the Peltier Bridge Primitive Campground (tent campground) or Brandy Creek RV Campground. Both campgrounds offer a quiet, natural surrounding to help you produce your works. Artists must supply their own meals and transportation to, from and within Whiskeytown. Residencies are scheduled for spring and fall. The artist is signed up as a park volunteer during their residency and in return for free camping, the artist gives Whiskeytown the right to use digital images of at least one piece of their artwork, specifically for park interpretive and education purposes. The artist will also conduct a talk or other public program spotlighting their experience in the park and their work in the park. Upon completion of program requirements and after the residency, the artist will receive a stipend courtesy of Western National Parks Association, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area's bookstore and educational park partner. A $1,500 stipend will be awarded to artists-in-residences that live within 200 miles of the park, and a $2,000 stipend will be awarded to those that live farther afield.
How to Apply
All types of media will be considered (poetry, literature, music, quilting, painting, photography, etc.). Artist-in-Residences are selected by a jury comprising several northern California artists. The call for artists and application process is done twice annually. In December, the call is put out for spring artists (April and May). In July, the announcement is put out for fall artists (September and October). We ask each applicant to submit the following:
Gain inspiration and enjoy viewing the works of art below. These pieces are from former artists-in-residences as well as current and former employees.
Last updated: December 2, 2022