I created this papercut piece, “Angels and Emeralds,” during my September Artist-In-Residency, 2016. This papercut piece, created with an x-acto knife and layering numerous layers of colored papers, captures my experience of the immediate area I resided in. My experience included coming back to the historic Zion Lodge to watch the mule deer and wild turkey gather with the visitors every afternoon around the Cottonwood tree, walking on The Grotto Trail between the Lodge and The Grotto House where I lived and worked that was lined with blooming Datura, and riding the shuttle buses from the crack of dawn to different trailheads and returning after being filled with awe from the majestic beauty of Zion National Park. Being in the park for a month allowed me to immerse myself in the color palette, textures, and hourly change of lighting that is unique to this location. I hiked all of the trails multiple times, especially Angel’s Landing and Emerald Pools because they were right outside my door. I experienced the incredibly dark skies filled with the Milky Way and the beautiful cacophony of sounds when the shuttle buses and visitors were quiet.
I feel very grateful to the National Park Service for giving me this unique experience, especially during the 2016 Centennial Year Celebration. It was truly inspiring. I hope that by donating this work the National Park Service, that visitors will see how the park inspires creative expression. Hopefully, the artwork created by National Park Artist-in-Residencies will continue to motivate visitors to visit National Parks by seeing the unique beauty and qualities that artists capture in their unique art forms and, hopefully, this will also contribute to the conservation of this country’s beautiful outdoors.
Blessed by the luxury of having four glorious weeks as Zion’s artist-in-residence in the fall of 2016, I was able to return to several Park locations at different times of the day throughout the residency. One of my favorite spots was Court of the Patriarchs. South of the shuttlebus stop, a short walk leads to a great overview of the patriarch-named peaks. But a short walk in the opposite direction leads to a wonderful, secluded bend in the Virgin River, sheltered by the towering spires of the Patriarchs. It was there, soothed by the rushing sound of the river and shaded by autumn Cottonwoods, that I spent hours doing plein air watercolors – in some cases spending most of the day there just to experience the change in light and weather, and sometimes to contemplate the impact of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob on my personal faith and aesthetic life. Dawn in particular brought a spectacular light, with the rising sun setting the tops of the peaks afire with reds and oranges. The intense color, accentuated by the cool shadows, led to a plein air watercolor that I relied upon heavily – both aesthetically and emotionally as a recapture of the feeling of place – to do this studio piece.
When I arrived in early February, the Zion N.P. landscape was still firmly in the grip of winter temperatures. As I explored the park in the early days of my residency, my attention quickly turned to the rugged terrain and quality of light in the washes of the Park's east side. I noticed that the creeks in many of the washes would flow intermittently, perhaps based on the rhythms of meltwater flowing from snowpack in higher elevations. In places, receding waters would leave behind fantastical ice formations. One frigid morning I was extremely fortunate to discover the scene that became 'Gambel Oak and Ice', combining two enduring themes of my work, trees and water.
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Last updated: March 17, 2019