Becoming an Artist in Residence

Painting on View Beach in Harriman Cove

Voices of the Wilderness artist residency program

Sponsored by the US Forest Service, National Park Service
& US Fish & Wildlife Service

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

Residency period
Residency dates vary, but typically they are hosted June through September, lasting 7-9 days.

Coordinator contact
Barbara Lydon at (907) 754-2318, email:


2017 details

Information (PDF)

Applications due by 11:59 PM AK time March 1, 2017

2017 Application (PDF) (Word Doc)

The 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 Lands

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.


2011 AIR Marybeth Holleman writing in Tracy Arm-Ford’s TerrorNow it’s your turn.


Recognizing that today’s artists continue to link people to the land, the US Forest Service, National Park Service and US 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 2017, 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.


2012 AIR MK MacNaughton painting in Western Arctic National ParklandsEach 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.


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.


2012 AIR MK MacNaughton artwork of the landscapeAs 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.


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.

2017 Participating Wilderness Areas:

US Fish and Wildlife Service Shield.Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
US 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 include 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, providing essential habitat for some 40 million seabirds, representing more than 30 species.


Alaska Maritime National Wildlife RefugeMuch of this Refuge of islands and headlands is federally designated wilderness.  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. The refuge is perhaps most unique for: the sheer abundance of life, species and subspecies found nowhere else (6 subspecies of Rock Ptarmigan are found only in the Aleutians), endangered and threatened marine mammals (Steller sea lion and otters), threats from invasive species (rats, fox, cattle, and marine invertebrates), and the possibility that new species are yet to be found among the remote and rugged 2,500 rocks, reefs and islands of the refuge.


These lands set aside for wildlife and habitat in the early 1900’s were on the front lines of World War II when Japanese forces invaded and occupied Attu and Kiska Islands. These islands and others bear the scars of war, and tell the story of the valor of both soldier and civilian. In 2018, we will commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Attu. We hope to collaborate with an artist or artists to visit these WWII sites in refuge wilderness areas at the tip of the Aleutian Chain. The art inspired by this visit would be shared in 2018, when we plan to bring the furthest reaches of North America to the road system in Alaska and beyond for commemorative events.


The length of the residency will last from 7-20 days in length. Artists will be responsible for flying to Adak Airport. Possible field opportunities include travelling via the Research Vessel Tiglax and/or air to islands such as Attu, Kiska, and Atka by ship or air.

For more information about AK Maritime NWR, please contact


US Forest Service Shield.Kootznoowoo Wilderness
Tongass National Forest
US Forest Service

The Kootznoowoo Wilderness is on Admiralty Island near Juneau, Alaska. This is Wilderness Area contains a vast unspoiled coastal island ecosystem.  It is the largest remaining intact tract of temperate rainforest and hosts some of the densest populations of brown bears and nesting bald eagles in the world.  The Kootznoowoo Wilderness has a rich cultural history and is home to the small Alaska Native community of Angoon which still relies on the bounty of the lands and waters for subsistence. 


Kootznoowoo WildernessThe selected artist will work with rangers administering the Pack Creek brown bear viewing area, maintaining Admiralty Island cabins and trails, eradicating invasive plants, monitoring solitude and inventorying campsites. During the fieldtrip, the artist and rangers will stay in small tents, a rustic wall tent or historic cabins. Prospective artists should be comfortable camping/working in bear country and cold, wet and buggy conditions. Transport to the wilderness will be by floatplane or skiff.  Artists will depart for the field from Juneau. One artist will be selected to participate during the 2017 summer.

Contact Kevin Hood at Admiralty Island National Monument for further questions about Kootznoowoo Wilderness: (907) 789-6220 or


US Fish and Wildlife Service Shield.Koyukuk Wilderness
US Fish & Wildlife Service

Think of 3.5-million-acre Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge, and water comes to mind: there are 14 rivers, hundreds of meandering creeks, more than 15,000 lakes, all forming the floodplain of the Koyukuk River. The lands of the refuge are still of great importance to the Alaskans who live in villages within or adjacent to its boundaries. Local subsistence activities include gathering meat, fish and berries, trapping of furbearers, and cutting house logs and firewood. There are no roads and no maintained trails, but the lower Koyukuk River provides a "highway" through the heart of the refuge.


Moose are common within the refuge. Brown and black bears wade into the rivers in night-less summer to escape swarms of mosquitoes and other biting insects. Lynx, coyotes, red foxes, wolves, and wolverines might also be seen. Beavers abound, and thousands of migratory waterfowl nest and raise their young within the productive river basin. The rivers and wetlands are also habitat to salmon, sheefish, pike and grayling.


Koyukuk WildernessFour-hundred thousand acres of the Koyukuk Refuge are preserved as Wilderness. Miles of boreal forest surround a unique geological feature -- the Nogahabara Sand Dunes. The roughly circular active dune field spans about 6 miles in diameter, and was formed thousands of years ago when wind-blown glacial sand was deposited at the base of the Nulato Hills. The isolated dunes are lightly vegetated and continually shift with the wind.


The Three-Day Slough area also lies within the Koyukuk Wilderness and is of both geologic and historic interest.  The large vegetated dune sheets that surround the Nogahabara Sand Dunes end abruptly in tall silt bluffs here, exposing layers of geologic history along the water’s edge.  The historic village of Kateel was also located in this area, and was an important site for trade between Koyukon Indians and neighboring Eskimos prior to the arrival of Europeans to the region. Archaeological evidence indicates that the area has been occupied by humans for many thousands of years. The Three-Day Slough area is remains an important area for public use, primarily by moose-hunters in the fall. Fishing and hunting are allowed throughout the Refuge, subject to State and Federal regulations.


The Koyukuk Wilderness, like the rest of the Koyukuk Refuge, is very remote. A visit to the Wilderness is a bit like going back in time, and the trappings of modern life pale in relation to the awe inspiring wild. A visiting artist will base out of Galena, and have opportunities to experience the richness of the Kateel and Three-day slough area of the Koyukuk Wilderness area by boat travel and tent camping. 

One artist may be selected for Koyukuk Wilderness.  While in the Koyukuk Wilderness, artists may participate in vegetation surveys designed to improve understanding of plant succession on vegetated sand dunes, and in cultural events in Koyukon Athabascan villages in the region.


Contact Karin Lehmkuhl Bodony at the Koyukuk/Nowitna/Innoko National Wildlife Refuge for further questions about Koyukuk: (907) 656-1231or


National Park Service Shield.Lake Clark National Park and 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.


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 gathered. The Dena’ina gathered and spread throughout this region, forming an enduring spiritual connection to what we now call the Lake Clark Wilderness.


Bear walking on the beachThis 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 for a 2-4 week wilderness stewardship tour of our coastline and 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 $25 per day. NPS will provide all field gear if needed and all backcountry flights. Outdoor skills resume required in order to receive consideration.

Contact Chief Ranger Carin Farley for more information:


US Forest Service Shield.Misty Fiords National Monument
Tongass National Forest
US Forest Service


Mountain appearing as the fog lifts.Misty Fiords National Monument Wilderness encompasses 2.2 million acres of coastal rainforest on the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle. The area is characterized by numerous streams and river systems; alpine and subalpine lakes; forested mountains; and an abundance of fish and wildlife. Past glaciations have formed picturesque fiords, such as Walker Cove and Rudyerd Bay, which are surrounded by granite walls rising 3,000 feet above the ocean. Flight seers, boaters, and hikers come to Misty Fiords to photograph, kayak, explore, fish, and hunt, and to view the outstanding scenic beauty of the rugged terrain. Brown and black bears, mountain goats, and black-tailed deer are common sights in Misty Fiords. Moose, marten, wolves, wolverines, and river otters may also be found in abundance. All five species of salmon share the waters with sea lions, harbor seals, killer whales, humpback whales, and porpoises.


As an artist-in-residence, you will experience Misty Fiords like few others. Traveling alongside a ranger, you’ll kayak the fiords, hike trails to subalpine and alpine lakes, and camp along the shoreline. You’ll also assist with some basic ranger duties, which may include cleaning up campsites, monitoring visitor use, and light trail maintenance.  The artist-in-residence selected will have outdoor experience and be physically and mentally prepared for a primitive travel and camping experience.  As you work with wilderness managers, you’ll have plenty of time to take in the sights and sounds of the scenic landscape.  Artists will depart for the wilderness from Ketchikan.  

Contact Daryl Bingham at Ketchikan-Misty Fiords Ranger District for further questions about Misty Fiords National Monument: (907) 228-4114 or


US Forest Service Shield.Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area
Chugach National Forest
US Forest Service

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.


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 by sea kayak in these 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.


Artists will be partnered with a ranger for up to seven days, participating in various wilderness stewardship duties, including invasive weed surveys, visitor contacts, wilderness character monitoring, rehabilitation projects, and air quality monitoring projects, including lichen studies.  The selected participant may be kayaking and/or boating, and will be camping in remote areas of the Sound.  While working alongside a ranger, there will be plenty of time to experience the solitude and wildness of this place.  Artist will depart for the field from the Glacier Ranger District in Girdwood, located approx. 40 miles southeast of Anchorage.

Contact Barbara Lydon at the Glacier Ranger District for further questions about Nellie Juan-College Fiord WSA: (907) 754-2318 or

Nellie Juan-College Fiord glacier and reflections.


US Forest Service Shield.South Baranof or West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness
Tongass National Forest
US Forest Service

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 basecamps in remote locations 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.

Contact Jennifer MacDonald at Sitka Ranger District for further questions about the Sitka Ranger District Wilderness area opportunities: (907) 747-4226 or


US Forest Service Shield.Tebenkof Bay Wilderness
Tongass National Forest
US Forest Service

Campers on the beachTebenkof 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.


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 during the 2017 summer. The artist will depart for the field from Petersburg.

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


US Fish and Wildlife Service Shield.Togiak National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness
US Fish & Wildlife Service

Togiak Refuge is a 4.7 million acre expanse of mountain, river, and coastal habitats in southwestern Alaska - an area about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.  Within the refuge, 5000 foot peaks tower over broad glacial valleys of the Ahklun and Wood River mountains, which cut the tundra uplands and open into coastal plains.  Numerous rivers flow west from mountainous headwaters and deep clear lakes within the Refuge toward Kuskokwim Bay, or south to Bristol Bay.  From jagged mountain peaks to coastal wetlands and beaches, Togiak Refuge encompasses a variety of terrain with a correspondingly varied wildlife population.  The northern 2.3 million acres of Togiak Refuge have been designated as the Togiak Wilderness to preserve the pristine character of the land and the animals that make it their home.


Togiak National Wildlife Refuge and WildernessTogiak Refuge is home to at least 282 species of wildlife. Throughout the year, resident species are found on the refuge, staying through the winter months when snow blankets the land and food is scarce.  In the spring, the land comes to life as plants produce new growth, hibernating residents awaken, and migratory birds arrive by the tens of thousands. During the summer, when wildflower blooms cover the hillsides and over a million salmon run up Refuge rivers to spawn, animals busily feed, putting on weight for the cold winter months or their long journeys back to wintering areas.  Autumn days grow shorter as the tundra changes to brilliant reddish hues and juicy berries are abundant.


Depending on the timing of their visit, the selected artist may have the opportunity to take part in a five-day Environmental Education trip on the Refuge either (1) rafting on one of the Refuge’s rivers with about six local high school students, or (2) travelling to Cape Peirce with about eight middle school students and staying in two administrative cabins, beachcombing, hiking, and observing wildlife.  In either case, the artist would be able to share their talents with the students at various points during the trip, and they would share the trip and instruction responsibilities with a few Togiak Refuge employees.  There may also be other opportunities for the artist to join a biologist on a trip to the field as part of an effort to study wildlife or fish.  [Special Note: In order to travel by float plane to and from the Refuge as a volunteer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the artist would be required to have completed the course “Water Ditching and Survival” before arriving in Dillingham, Alaska *.


If the selected artist has limited time or their visit must take place on certain dates that do not correspond with the trips described above, they would have the opportunity to go on a River Ranger jet-boat patrol on the Togiak River from the Village of Togiak to Togiak Lake.  They would be able to spend the night in a tent, or possibly a cabin, along the way.  The Refuge would pay the artist’s commercial transportation from Dillingham to the Village of Togiak in a small, wheeled plane.  This trip would not require the completion of the Water Ditching and Survival course.


Artist is responsible for their own airfare to and from Dillingham. While there, groceries and bunkhouse accommodations, along with transportation around Dillingham and to and from the Refuge will be provided.


*For more information and to enroll in a free Water Ditching and Survival Course, go to the Interagency Aviation Training website at, create a login and password, and look for A-312 course offerings.  Check the website regularly; there are more course offerings during the spring prior to the summer field season.  Once someone has taken the course in person in the classroom/swimming pool, they remain current by taking the online refresher A-325R every two years.

Contact Susanna Henry or Allen Miller at Togiak with questions (907) 842-1063 or


US Forest Service Shield.Tracy Arm-Ford’s Terror Wilderness
Tongass National Forest
US Forest Service

Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness is located fifty miles south of Juneau. This is a spectacular Wilderness Area with two steep-walled fiords that terminate at three of the most southerly tidewater glaciers in the northern hemisphere. Experience the abundance of life in an old-growth temperate rainforest and then transition to the calving face of a tidewater glacier as it exposes land that hasn’t seen the sky in hundreds of years. Our stewardship projects here are as various as the characteristics of Wilderness. 


Each selected artist will accompany a wilderness ranger for up to nine days. Transport to the wilderness will be by floatplane or skiff. During the fieldtrip, the artist and ranger will divide their time between Holkham Bay and Tracy and Endicott Arms. While in Holkham Bay, they will stay in a rustic wall tent. While in the arms, they will travel by sea kayak and camp in a two-person tent. Artists will depart for the field from Juneau.

Contact Kevin Hood at Juneau Ranger District for further questions about Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness: (907) 789-6220 or

Reflection of the land in the sea


National Park Service Shield.Western Arctic National Parklands
National Park Service


Western Arctic National Parklands, located in the northwest corner of Alaska, consist of four Park units - Noatak National Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park, Cape Krusenstern National Monument, and Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. 


Scenery shot of Western Arctic National ParklandsNoatak National Preserve protects almost the entirety of the largest untouched river basin in America, that of the Noatak River.  All the preserve, except for about 700,000 acres around the village of Noatak, has been designated Wilderness.  The Noatak River flows westward 425 miles through the heart of the preserve to Kotzebue Sound, carving the scenic Grand Canyon of the Noatak along its course.  From its source to its confluence with the Kelly River, 330 miles have been designated Wild and Scenic, making it the longest river in the Wild and Scenic System.  More and more visitors each year come to canoe and kayak on the Noatak, and almost the entire river may be paddled easily.  Those who fish catch Arctic char, grayling, whitefish, or salmon.  The Western Arctic caribou herd roams, 450,000-plus strong.  Backpacking in the foothills, among the bears, wolves, lynx, wolverine, and Dall sheep, has been increasing in popularity, and backcountry travelers must move with care, as this land is fragile.  Bird life abounds in the migratory seasons.  Camping is unrestricted, but you should avoid the numerous private lands on the lower Noatak River.  Campsites are best on river sandbars and high, dry tundra knobs.  Motorboats, small airplanes, and snowmobiles are permitted.  Hunting and fishing are allowed.


The majority of our backcountry patrols utilize canoes for the Noatak and Kobuk Rivers. The selected artist for this residency will accompany one of our backcountry rangers for an 8-10 day wilderness stewardship project. 


Successful applicant will provide their own transportation to Kotzebue and provide their own food.  NPS will provide all field gear and all backcountry flights.  Outdoor skills resume required in order to receive consideration.

Contact Chief Ranger / Pilot Dan Stevenson at Western Arctic National Parklands for more information:

(907) 442-8306 or




Residencies are open to artists of all mediums.  Selection will be based on:

  • Appropriateness to a stewardship-based wilderness residency
  • Proposal for donated artwork and community extension, and willingness to work with the federal agencies to make this program a success
  • Artistic merit
  • Ability to camp in a remote location and travel by skiff, airplane and sea kayak, and willingness to assist with light ranger duties.  (Extensive backcountry/kayaking experience is not necessary for all residencies, just capability.)

Art Work 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.

How to Apply

To submit application: Applications must be emailed; no paper applications will be accepted. 

In the ‘subject’ of the email, include your last name & your artistic medium, for example, “Lydon-ceramics”.

Submit only one application, even if applying to multiple residencies.  Email to and include three attachments:

  • 2017 application filled out, PDF format or Word formatted document
  • A resume no more than 2 pages, in either PDF or Word formatted document
  • 6 Artistic samples composed in single PDF or Word formatted document, 5 MB maximum

Include descriptions of artwork to include title, materials and dimensions of work:

  • Visual Artists: (i.e. Photographers, Sculptors, Painters, etc.): Six color photos.
  • Writers: Six pages of written examples (prose, short stories, plays or poetry).
  • Musicians/Composers: Musicians and composers should submit lyrics and recordings of their work (links to recordings is fine to include)-six recordings total.
  • Multidiscipline Artists: Send appropriate sample combinations, six color photos. 


  • Insufficient materials or incomplete application are causes for rejection, as are an artist’s proposed use of a work already in progress as a residency project.  Zip files, Google Documents, Dropbox, etc. will not be considered.
  • Finished artwork and community extensions must be completed and donated within six months of completing your residency.
  • This original artwork resulting from the residency will be donated to the United States Government, which means that the artist relinquishes publishing and reproduction rights to that work.
  • Selected artists agree to provide a high resolution, professional quality digital image of their completed artwork to use for publicity and educational purposes.
  • Selected artists agree to submit a summary of their community extension and projects/outreach associated as a result of their residency.
  • Emailed applications are due by 11:59 PM AK time March 1, 2017.  Artists will be chosen by mid-April by a panel of professional artists and federal employees.  Selections will be based on artistic merit, proposed donations/community extensions, and appropriateness to a stewardship-based wilderness residency.  All applicants will be notified of decisions via email at that point.
  • Please note that due to unforeseen budget constraints in the spring, some residencies may not be offered.
  • Your application is very important to us.  If you do not receive a confirmation email stating we’ve received your submission, it may not have gone through.  Please contact program coordinator Barbara Lydon at (907) 754-2318 or if you don’t receive a confirmation email within a week of submitting your application and supporting documents.


For more photos and information from our past residencies, visit


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