National Parks Artist-in-Residence at Petrified Forest, AZ

Shining ThroughShining ThroughThe setting sun shines through a hollow petrified log.

Jasper Forest, Petrified Forest National Park

In 2017, I had the honor of serving in the prestigious National Parks Artist-in-Residence program. I was stationed at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona for the month of April.

Being an artist-in-residence in the NPS means that you are able to pursue your own work as an artist, in my case a photographer, within the boundaries of a specific National Park to which you applied. So I was not working for the National Park - I was still working for myself- but with some great perks, including pretty plush, free housing within the park, access to the same facilities as the park staff, and the cooperation of the park personnel, such as rangers, biologists, and archaeologists, in facilitating the creation of my art and showing me areas of the park that either the public doesn’t have access to, or simply doesn’t know about.  

As an outdoor photographer who specializes in low-light work, perhaps the greatest benefit of all to being the artist-in-residence was having access to the amazing and one-of-a-kind landscape of Petrified Forest after hours, as the park is closed to the general public between dusk and dawn.

I was able to make many shots that had never been accomplished before.

Every resident artist at Petrified Forest has some duties to the public as well:  I ran two simple educational programs on photography for local youth groups from Holbrook and Phoenix, and three public exhibitions of my photography, showcasing both the work I had done in my career, and what I had accomplished while I was in-residence.

The experience of being Petrified Forest’s Artist-in-Residence was unforgettable, and perhaps the most rewarding phase of my professional life so far. I would do it a million times over if I could, and I can only hope to blessed with other equally stimulating and unique opportunities as my career moves forward.