Becoming an Artist in Residence

Voices of the Wilderness

An Alaskan artist-in-residence program where participants are partnered with a wilderness specialist to join in projects such as research, monitoring and education in a remote wilderness setting.

View Highlights from Past Artists-in-Residence

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010


2024 Information 

 View the 2024 selected artists

Sponsored by: USDA Forest Service, National Park Service & U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Residencies open to: Art professionals in all media – visual (two and three dimensional: photographers, sculptors, painters, etc.), audio (musicians, singers, composers), film (video/filmmakers), performance artists, and writers (poets, fiction, essays, storytellers).  International artists are welcome to apply.

Residency period: Typically, June through August; dates & length of residencies vary.

Coordinator contact: Barbara Lydon

2025 summer residency application information will be available on this webpage this coming winter.


2012 AIR Susan Watkins painting in Nellie Juan-College Fiord WSAThe Voices of the Wilderness artist residency is a unique opportunity.  It is modeled after traditional residencies in the national parks…with a twist.  Instead of staying at a remote wilderness cabin, our participating artists are paired with a wilderness specialist and actively engaged in stewardship projects, such as research, monitoring, and education. The idea is to give artists a sense of the stewardship behind America’s public lands, fostering an artistic exploration of these natural and cultural treasures. The hoped-for result is artwork that communicates something of the meaning of these lands.

Artists in Public Lands2012 AIR MK MacNaughton painting in Western Arctic National Parklands

Artists have long contributed to the preservation and interpretation of our public lands. Early examples include George Catlin, Albert Beirstadt, and Thomas Moran, whose nineteenth-century paintings inspired pride in America’s wild landscapes and influenced designation of our first parks.

In subsequent generations, artists used song, photograph, poetry and other mediums to celebrate America’s public lands. Their work demonstrates that artistic expression plays a vital role in connecting people to the natural world.

Now it’s your turn.2012 AIR MK MacNaughton artwork of the landscape

Recognizing that today’s artists continue to link people to the land, the USDA Forest Service, National Park Service and U.S, Fish & Wildlife Service are sponsoring Voices of the Wilderness, artist-in-residence opportunities hosted in some of Alaska’s wildest and most scenic areas.

Your job? It’s to be inspired. Experience the wilderness and use your creative energy to bring its voice back to the community.


In the summer of 2024, artists will be invited to participate in our residencies, each opportunity completely different. The purpose is to share with the community artwork that conveys the inspirational and other values of wilderness. 

2011 AIR Marybeth Holleman writing in Tracy Arm-Ford’s TerrorEach artist will be provided the same safety training as other volunteers (may include aviation and boat safety, kayak safety, use of radios and satellite phones, review of Job Hazard Analyses, etc.). The hosting federal agency will provide transportation to and from the field, camping and field gear, and in many cases, food as well.

2013 AIR Sepand Shahab recording sounds in Misty Fiords.Travel to and from Alaska is the artist’s responsibility. Participants should plan to arrive in Alaska at least one full day prior to a residency to ensure enough time for safety training. Return travel should be planned for a couple days after a residency, as weather sometimes delays the return from the field.  Artists are also responsible for their personal gear, including art supplies.

As an artist-in-residence, you will experience the wilderness like few others. Traveling alongside a ranger, you might kayak the calm fiords and camp on glacier-carved shores. There will be plenty of time to sit back in your camp chair and absorb the crackling ice bergs and roaring waterfalls. From the water, you might see a bear foraging among intertidal mussels, or seals hauled-out on the ice. On remote beaches, your steps will mingle with the tracks of wolves, bears, birds, maybe even a mink. The wilderness soundscape will embrace you with the screeches of eagles or the songs of whales. Along the way, you’ll get a peek at what it’s like to care for the land by sharing time with a ranger.

2014 AIR Ray Geier sketching in South Baranof.As a volunteer, each artist will assist with some basic ranger duties, which may include boarding a tour boat to provide education, participating in research projects, such as seal counts or climate change studies, walking a beach to remove litter, or other generally light duties. However, an emphasis for the artist will be experiencing the wilderness and exploring how to communicate its inspirational qualities through their artwork.


2024 Participating Wilderness Areas

Forest Service Shield logoNellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area

Chugach National Forest

In 1980, Congress designated roughly two million acres along western Prince William Sound as the Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area (WSA). This recognized the area’s exceptional beauty and remoteness and its possible future designation as federal wilderness. Until Congress determines the next step, the Forest Service is committed to preserving the area’s wilderness character to provide the public outstanding opportunities for solitude, primitive recreation, and inspiration in an undeveloped setting. 

Nellie Juan-College Fiord glacier and reflections.Located in south central Alaska on the Chugach National Forest, this wild landscape features countless glaciers - the densest concentration of tidewater glaciers in the world, some flowing a dozen miles from ice-capped peaks to terminate in cliffs of ice towering hundreds of feet above the water. The history of glaciation is evident everywhere you look, from newly de-glaciated barren hillsides, to ancient moraines just below the water’s surface. 

Traveling amongst the expansive fiords, you’ll look straight up at peaks rising 2,000-9,000 feet right from the water’s edge. Camping alongside the ocean shores you’ll be able to follow the tracks of an animal, check out glacier ice up close, or take a short hike up to the alpine for an expansive glimpse of the fiords.  Diverse wildlife is prevalent in the Sound, including black bears, humpback whales, sea otters, Dall’s porpoises, harbor seals and sea lions. 

The residency will occur between July 6-15 (exact dates to be determined).  Artists will be partnered with rangers to participate in various wilderness stewardship duties, including accompanying a four-day trail maintenance stewardship project. This project is based out of a remote cabin, servicing the access trail. The artist must be comfortable hiking with gear and materials to the cabin, along an uneven and slippery one-mile trail.  In addition to accompanying the trail maintenance trip, the selected artist will also be involved with a three-day marine debris clean-up. This is a boat-based effort and involves walking remote shorelines, stepping over logs, and walking on uneven and slippery surfaces. The artist may also be asked to participate in visitor contacts, wilderness character monitoring, and rehabilitation projects, and will be boating while camping in remote areas of the Sound. Conditions may be rainy, windy, and cold.

During the residency, there will be plenty of time to experience the solitude and wildness of this place.  Artist will fly into Anchorage and depart for the field from the Glacier Ranger District in Girdwood, located approx. 40 miles southeast of Anchorage


Forest Service Shield logoKootznoowoo Wilderness

Tongass National Forest  

The Kootznoowoo Wilderness encompasses the majority of Admiralty Island National Monument near Juneau, Alaska. The indigenous Tlingit of Southeast Alaska know Admiralty Island by the name Kootznoowoo, meaning “Bear Fort” or “Fortress of the Bears”.Kootznoowoo Wilderness

Kootznoowoo Wilderness is the largest expanse of intact temperate rainforest in the northern hemisphere and is home to one of the densest populations of coastal brown bears and bald eagles in the world. This wilderness area has a rich indigenous history spanning 12,000 years of human presence in the village of Angoon, whose inhabitants rely on the abundance of natural resources found in the lands and waters of the island.

The Artist-in-Residence will work alongside wilderness rangers at the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area and surrounding waters of Seymour Canal. During their time in the field, the artist will stay in a small camping tent or rustic wall tent in the administrative camp on Windfall Island, a short distance from Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area.

Artists applying to this residence should be prepared to camp, work, and hike in coastal brown bear habitat with frequent bear encounters. Conditions often include high levels of rainfall, wind, and temperatures between 40-60 degrees. Transportation to the wilderness field camp will be by 30ft boat and may include inclement marine weather. Artists will arrive and depart from the Juneau Ranger District office in Juneau, Alaska.

For questions regarding Kootznoowoo Wilderness and the Voices of the Wilderness program on Admiralty Island National Monument, contact Grace Corrigan: or Chrissy Post:


Forest Service Shield logoTebenkof Bay or Stikine LeConte Wilderness

Tongass National Forest

Tebenkof Bay Wilderness, located on Kuiu Island, comprises a complex system of smaller bays, where islands, islets, and coves are the prominent features. The western side is bound by Chatham Strait, a body of water exposed to the open ocean. The waters of the bay are home to sea otters, humpback whales, harbor seals and four types of salmon, while the land is covered by a thick forest of old growth, muskeg and alpine areas. Historically the Kake and Klawock Tlingit utilized Tebenkof Bay. They trapped, hunted, fished, gathered seaweed and gardened throughout the area. The bay was named in 1879 for Captain Tebenkov, governor of the Russian American colonies from 1845-1850. Early into the 20th century, canneries and salteries expanded into the coastal waters of what is now Alaska, and at least one of the industries operated within the bay during those formative years. At about the same time, the commercial raising of fur-bearing blue foxes spread. Almost every island group within Tebenkof Bay sheltered one of these businesses, but most were abandoned in the early 1940's. Commercial fishing continues inside the bay and in the outside waters.

Campers on the beachIn 1980, the United States Congress designated 448,926 acres as the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness. Located on the mainland midway between Wrangell and Petersburg, this Wilderness is home to the Stikine River, the fastest free-flowing navigable river in the U.S., and the LeConte Glacier, the southern-most tidewater glacier on the Pacific Coast. The Glacier is in a constant state of change – melting, calving, and retreating.  This dynamic environment creates habitat for wildlife, opportunities for research, and a truly special landscape.  LeConte Bay is over 800 ft. deep, allowing icebergs to flow freely to the mouth of the bay.  These Icebergs help to provide a haven for pupping seals, visitors can often spot seals resting on the ice. The bay can look different every day depending on the activity of the glacier, creating unique and variable scenery.  The Bay is also a good place to spot sea and shore birds and other marine mammals. From hikers to paddlers, birders to ice climbers, this Wilderness has an adventure for just about any outdoor enthusiast.

Participating artists will be partnered with a ranger for a five to ten-day trip working on projects such as invasive plant eradication, encounter monitoring, wildlife monitoring and campsite inspections. The crew will live in small tents and travel will be by floatplane and kayak, spending days in what can be a cold and wet environment.

One artist will be selected to participate; the artist will depart for the field from Petersburg.

Contact Karisa Garner for further questions about this opportunity: (907) 772-5910 or or Megan McDermott at


Forest Service Shield logoSitka Ranger District Wilderness Areas

Tongass National Forest

Alexander Baranof, the first governor of Russian America, built his headquarters in nearby Sitka and left his name on this large island (1,600 square miles) with most of the southern extremity of the island (319,568 acres) designated as the South Baranof Wilderness Area. Bounded on the west by the Gulf of Alaska, the scenery is stunningly picturesque with granite glacier-scored mountains, long saltwater fiords and hanging lake valleys. On the east side of the wilderness by Chatham Strait, the saltwater coastline is not as rugged and there is a higher snow accumulation over the whole area with over 200 inches of precipitation per year. Permanent snowfields and active glaciers blanket the high country above 2,000 feet, giving way to dense undergrowth in a coastal forest of spruce and hemlock. The wildlife that inhabits this area includes brown bears, Sitka black-tail deer, mink, marten and river otters, as wells as eagles and shorebirds.  Seals, sea lions, whales, and a large population of sea otters are often seen offshore, and crab, shrimp, herring, salmon and halibut are harvested from the sea.

Sitka Ranger District Wilderness AreasThe West Chichagof–Yakobi Wilderness Area occupies the western portions of Chichagof and Yakobi Islands in the extreme northwest portion of the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska. The wilderness consists of 265,286 acres of wave-pounded open coastline, remote rivers, forests of old-growth western hemlock and Sitka spruce and uplands of alpine, muskeg, and rare karst cliffs. Sitka black-tailed deer are common here along with brown bears and an abundance of smaller furbearing animals including mink and marten. Migratory waterfowl frequent the more protected bays and inlets in remarkable numbers. Marine mammals include sea otters, Stellar sea lions, and harbor seals.

As an artist-in-residence you will be joining in a unique collaboration between the Sitka Ranger District and the Sitka Conservation Society in monitoring this rarely visited Wilderness Area. Access will be by floatplane or motorboat.  Trips will consist of working from support vessel or basecamp, or by roving monitoring from a sea kayak.  Artists should be available for at least a two-week period to allow for adequate weather windows given the area’s exposure to the wide-open Pacific Ocean.  Artists will depart from Sitka.

Contact Laurent Deviche at Sitka Ranger District for further questions about the Sitka Ranger District Wilderness area opportunities: (907) 747-4212


Forest Service Shield logoTracy Arm-Ford's Terror Wilderness

Tongass National Forest 

Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, located 50 miles south of Juneau, is a striking landscape crafted by water, ice, and time. This spectacular Wilderness Area cradles two steep-walled fjords that terminate at three of the most southerly tidewater glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere. Come experience what John Muir called “a wild, unfinished Yosemite,” and bear witness to the crescendo of post-glacial succession as old-growth temperate rainforest transitions to the powerful, calving face of a tidewater glacier.

Reflection of the land in the seaOur stewardship projects here are as various as the characteristics of Wilderness.  Artists may assist rangers in monitoring cruise ship emissions, providing shipboard education, treating invasive weeds, recording wildlife, and monitoring solitude and recreation sites.

Each selected artist will accompany a wilderness ranger for approximately eight days. Artists will depart for Tracy Arm-Fords Terror from Juneau via motorboat. During the field trip, the artist will travel primarily by sea kayak (paddling up to 10-15 miles per day) and camp in a two-person tent. The climate in Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness is often wet and cold, with average summer temperatures hovering in the mid-to-high 50s. As you travel deeper into the fjords and approach glacial termini, temperatures decrease by approximately 5-10 degrees and wind is common.

The selected artist will participate in kayak training in Juneau before departing for the wilderness, and the district will provide all needed kayak and camping gear.  Applicants should have backcountry experience and be physically and mentally prepared for extended primitive travel and camping in potentially arduous conditions. To maximize safety and well-being, applicants should note any recent, significant injuries or surgeries that may inhibit their comfort/physical ability while on the trip.

For further questions about Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, contact Dylan Miller at the Juneau Ranger District: or (907) 789-6224


 US Fish and Wildlife Service shieldAleutian Islands Wilderness

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve marine mammals, seabirds and other migratory birds, and the marine resources upon which they rely. The Refuge's 3.4 million acres encompasses islands and headlands featuring the spectacular volcanic islands of the Aleutian chain, the rich rainforests of the inside passage, the seabird cliffs of the remote Pribilofs, and icebound lands washed by the Chukchi Sea. This is a refuge of thousands of islands, and millions of birds.

Auklets on rocks in the Aleutian Islands.Much of this Refuge of islands and headlands is federally designated wilderness in 11different Wilderness areas.  Swirling clouds of seabirds, rare Asiatic migrant birds, beaches of bellowing sea lions and fur seals, and salmon streams in abundance are a few of the wildlife highlights on the Alaska Maritime Refuge. We access much of this remote refuge via our Research Vessel Tiĝlax̂. 

We're still developing our 2024 schedule and won't have the final draft until February, but we tentatively plan on having the artist visit remote Islands for 7-20 days. 

Artists will be responsible for transportation to and from Homer, Alaska.

For more information about the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, please contact


US Fish and Wildlife Service shield Arctic Wilderness

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s largest and most northern Refuge at 19.64 million acres, approximately the size of South Carolina. The refuge encompasses an entire Arctic ecosystem in the northeast corner of Alaska, including the homelands of the Iñupiat people of the north coast and the Gwich'in people of interior Alaska and northwest Canada. It contains the largest area of designated Wilderness in the National Wildlife Refuge System and three of its rivers (Sheenjek, Ivishak, and Wind) are designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. 

Tundra and mountain in the Arctic Wilderness.The Refuge includes an array of landscapes and wildlife habitats--from the boreal forest of the Porcupine River uplands ... to the foothills and slopes of the Brooks Range ... to the arctic tundra of the coastal plain ... to the lagoons and barrier islands of the Beaufort Sea coast. Together these areas contain hundreds of species of mosses, grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and other plants. The Refuge contains the greatest wildlife diversity of any protected area in the circumpolar north.

Arctic National Wildlife Range was established in 1960 to preserve unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values. In 1980, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) re-designated the Range as part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and provided four purposes that guide management of the entire Refuge: to conserve animals and plants in their natural diversity, ensure a place for hunting and gathering activities, protect water quality and quantity, and fulfill international wildlife treaty obligations.

Untold mountains, diverse wildlife and a wealth of habitats give this unspoiled national treasure first-rate cultural, scenic, scientific and experiential values. Values that are ageless. Values that make the Refuge a national symbol of wilderness. Arctic Refuge is a place that changes those who visit. It's a place whose existence strengthens our awareness of and sense of responsibility for the natural world.

The length of the residency is 7-14 days in length. Artists are responsible for flying to Fairbanks International Airport and air travel to Arctic Refuge will be provided. Possible field opportunities include flying to a remote location with a field biologist and hiking to various locations within the Refuge.


Contact Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for further questions:

call (907) 456-0250 or email


National Park Service Shield. Jay S. Hammond Wilderness

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve - National Park Service

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve encompasses approximately 4 million acres of extraordinary mountain landscapes dominated by two active volcanoes and cradles a system of turquoise-hued lakes and free-flowing rivers that epitomize Alaska's scenic beauty.

Fireweed flowers, water and mountains of Lake Clark National Park.The Dena’ina people have lived in this vast, undisturbed landscape of coastal areas, mountain ranges, tundra, foothills, and lake regions for centuries. Wilderness is Kijik (Qizhjeh), a place where people gather. The Dena’ina gather and spread throughout this region, forming an enduring spiritual connection to what we now call the Lake Clark Wilderness.

This area is habitat for large populations of fish and wildlife including but not limited to caribou, Dall's sheep, brown/grizzly bears, bald eagles, and peregrine falcons. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve protects this critical spawning and rearing habitat at the headwaters of the world's most productive red (sockeye) salmon fishery.  The salmon and many other resources provide opportunities for local rural residents to engage in the harvesting activities necessary to support a subsistence way of life.

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve manages one of the largest wilderness areas in the United States providing visitors with superlative opportunities for solitude and self-reliance. Like many areas in Alaska, Lake Clark is not on the road system; therefore, travel takes place primarily by small plane.  Fixed-wing aircraft are allowed to land on all suitable lakes, rivers, beaches, gravel bars, and open ground in both the park and preserve unless the area is closed or otherwise restricted.

Per Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), motorboats, small airplanes, and snowmobiles are permitted in in the park.  Primary visitation to the park includes bear viewing, fishing, and remote wilderness travel/sightseeing. The climate is relatively moderate, with extremes ranging from about -40 degrees F. in the winter to 75 degrees F. during the summer.

The selected artist for this residency will accompany one of our backcountry rangers and/or field biotechs for a 10 day – 2-week wilderness stewardship tour of our coastline and/or interior. Travel in small planes is a requirement and the artist will be exposed to a large brown bear population. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is located on the Alaska Peninsula 65 air miles northwest of Homer, and about 120 air miles southwest of Anchorage. A successful applicant will provide their own transportation to Anchorage and will be reimbursed for food while in the park up to $35 per day. NPS will provide all field gear if needed and all backcountry flights. Outdoor skills resume required in order to receive consideration.

Contact park rangers Laurie Smith ( and Chelsea Niles ( for more information.



Artwork Donations

The goal of the Voices of the Wilderness program is to share the scenic beauty and inspirational values of Alaska’s wilderness areas, through the talents and reflections of professional artists.  Each participant is expected to donate one piece of artwork to the hosting federal agency for use in highlighting the values of our public lands. Donated artwork should be representative of the area and communicate its inspirational or other values.

  • Artwork should be delivered to the appropriate agency office within six months of the residency. 
  • Artwork from visual artists should be framed with glass or otherwise prepared for hanging before donation.
  • An electronic, high resolution digital image of the completed artwork must be provided by the artist prior to receiving the donation.

The artwork will be shared with the public through exhibition, publication, websites, or other means.  The original work resulting from the residency will be donated to the United States Government, which means that the artist signs over publishing and reproduction rights to that work.


Community Extension

Artists are expected to provide one public presentation within six months of completing their residency, such as a slideshow lecture, demonstration, or workshop that publicizes the program and connects the community to their public lands. Other examples include a performance, explorative hike, or participation in a public lecture.  The presentation can be tailored to an individual’s medium, interest and experience, but each artist must provide supplies, equipment and logistics for the presentation.  Community extensions do not have to take place in the community of the residency.


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