Artist in Residence Highlights 2021

Forest Service Shield logoNellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area, Chugach National Forest Jamie Barks painting in Nellie Juan Wilderness

JAIME BARKS | Painter from Chattanooga, TN

“Alaska is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was so inspiring to get to paint and explore this vast untouched area of wilderness. It totally sparked and inspired my creativity after so much time at home after living through 2020. I found it really empowering to spend so much time adventuring and camping in the remote wilderness. This was so different from traditional park residencies and I loved the experience of spending so long in a wilderness area."

Community Extension: Jaime gave a slideshow presentation at a local visual arts organization in Tennessee, which was broadcast live on Facebook.  Also, she shared her residency experiences extensively on her social media channels.

An acrylic painting by Jamie Barks of a glacier in impressionist style.Artist Donation: Jaime donated a 11 x 11 inch acrylic on wood panel of the Barry arm landslide (Prince William Sound).

Stewardship Projects:

  • Participated in the “Teach the Teachers” Expedition at Derickson Spit. A partnership between the USDA Forest Service, Alaska Geographic and the University of Alaska.
  • Assisted with restoration and naturalization of impacted use areas in Prince William Sound.
  • Assisted the Special Uses Team with inspections of set net camps.
  • Deck handed aboard a USDA Forest Service vessel.


Visit the artists website


Forest Service Shield logoMisty Fjords Wilderness, Tongass National Forest Jason Baldwin looks through his camera on a marshy shore.

JASON BALDWIN | Photographer from Ketchikan, AK

“The pinnacle of our trip came after several hours kayaking from Manzanita Bay to New Eddystone Rock. The extreme low tide made for a long walk to the lonesome basalt spire in the middle of Behm Canal. Something about that Spring had made for seemingly more growth on the island. The walls and the feet of the structure were blanketed in cow parsnip and columbine. The friendly tides allowed for a lot of flat space to set up tents, and low hanging trees gave us a great spot to pitch our tarp. The sounds of insects and the call of birds overhead were prominent against the pitter-patter of the falling rain. A new sound took my attention when a hummingbird landed near our cooking space. The sharp whir of their wings became my focus for the 24 hours we would have on the island. I spent hours waiting for clear conditions to pull out my camera only to be met by more rain and dusk. In the morning, I took my field recorder around the rock waiting to capture the sound. Eventually two hummingbirds met in front of me and darted and whizzed at each other in a terrible fire fight. When the sky cleared I ran around New Eddystone tripping over rocks to grab my camera and make it back to one of the hummingbirds favorite hangouts. A few moments was all I was able to grab, but it felt like a victory and a true immersion into the wilderness.”Title screen for New Eddystone video.

Community Extension: Jason created a composite video in which he describes the motivation for each of his donated videos.

Artist Donation:  Jason created three short episodes about his time in the Misty Fjords. One to express the value of the wilderness, a second that talks about our evolving understanding of it, and a final to express what it means to lack an understanding of the wilderness. 

Stewardship Projects:

  • Trail maintenance
  • Trail documentation


Visit the artists website



Forest Service Shield logoStikine-Leconte Wilderness, Tongass National Forest Stacey Skans progressive form line illustrations of an iceberg.

STACEY SKAN | Glass & photographer from Klawock, AK

“I am of the T’akdeintaan clan, I was not raised to embrace, know or celebrate my culture, like many of my generation we were taught that being assimilated into westernized society was the only way to be successful. When I started my glass art journey it was a way for me to solidify my understanding of my people as it related to my life today. The VOTW experience was the best experience, the people, the outdoors wrapped my memories into a new level of inspiration for years to come. I am forever grateful to be given the opportunity.” 

Community Extension: As a teacher at the Quileute Tribal School in La Push, WA, Stacey has hosted creative platforms to start conversations with her students and community regarding how art can be healing and unifying. 

Artist Donation: Stacey donated a series of glassware and a placard, representing phases of seasons outlined in the form of a salmon. The finished pieces honor the relationship between the USDA Forest Service and the indigenous way of life for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures.

Stewardship Projects: Stacey Skan smiles in a kayak in front of an iceberg.

  • Participated in solitude monitoring
  • Recreation site monitoring
  • Invasive surveys
  • Outfitter/guide Monitoring
  • Beach cleanups




Noatak Wilderness, Western Arctic National Parklands 

CLAUDIA IHL | Painter from Nome, AKRealistic watercolor painting of a person fishing on the Noatak River.

“In August of 2021, I was lucky to be able to travel to the remote and wild Noatak with a group of National Park Service rangers and biologists. The objective of our trip was to check up on wolf activity along a stretch of the river near a known wolf den. Although the wolves had apparently left for their fall and winter hunting grounds, we found lots of tracks as we hiked the river banks and saw plenty of other wildlife, including foxes, grizzly bears and moose. I also heard a wolf howl in the distance at night. Our days were filled with hiking, fishing for Arctic Grayling in the river, and playing games in our communal tent on the river bank.”

Community Extension: In February 2023, Claudia traveled back to Kotzebue to host several painting workshops for students and the community.

Artist Donation: “Fishing on the Noatak”, watercolor painting, 30 x 22 inches, framed. 

Stewardship Projects: Monitored wolf activity along the Noatak.


Visit the artists website


Claudia Ihl steps out of her tent to admire sunrise over the mountains.

Forest Service Shield logoSouth Baranof Wilderness, Tongass National Forest Cynthia Whalen-Nelson kayaking in the Tongass

CYNTHIA WHALEN-NELSON | Oil painter from Narragansett, RI 

“I am so very grateful to have been part of this amazing 10-day journey to the Tongass National Forest, experiencing life off the grid immersed in the breathtaking beauty of the Southern Baranof Island wilderness. The surroundings were incredible, camping in the majestic forest packed tight with towering moss-covered trees met by waterways rich with marine life and corralled by immense rolling glacier covered mountain peaks that seemed to kiss the sky. This amazing adventure has been an inspiration for my art as well as my elementary school students as we study the culture of Alaska Native people and the vast ecosystem of the temperate rainforest.

The trip encompassed a myriad of weather conditions, our first few days we had torrential downpours with heavy winds and ocean currents, followed by days of peaceful sun and placid conditions, followed again by wind and ocean currents that made kayaking to outer areas near impossible. The pinnacle of my experiences was waking up at 3 a.m. and watching the sun move over the mountains, capturing the glass like reflections on the waterways and documenting the extreme tides investigating the natural wonder of this undeveloped, enduring ecosystem. I videotaped, photographed and collected specimens of this experience to share with my inner-city students in Providence, Rhode Island. They were amazed to not only watch, intake information, and hold specimens from my experience. I developed a PowerPoint presentation with hands on replicas for them to respond to this experience through their artworks. Students have expressed their desire to travel to Alaska and continue to research wild frontiers.”

Community Extension: Cynthia developed a yearlong curriculum for elementary school students in Providence, Rhode Island exploring the temperate rainforest ecosystem/wildlife culminating in the making of a children’s book entitled “Dreamer’s Guide to the Baranof”.

Artist Donation: 14”x40” painting framed acrylic on MDF board.

Cynthia Whalen Nelson abstract painting with bright colors and energy pulsing through a landscape.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Conducted campsite inventories
  • Assisted with recreation site cleanup/naturalization


Visit the artists website


The following artists were selected, but were not able to participate in the 2021 program.

US Fish and Wildlife Service shieldInnoko/Koyukuk Wilderness, Innoko/Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuges

GAIL PRIDAY | Painter from Fairbanks, AK


Forest Service Shield logoKootznoowoo Wilderness, Tongass National Forest

KYLE NIEMER & BRAD EINSTEIN | Filmmakers from Chicago, IL



Learn how to apply and view more previous artists