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Alaskan artist residency celebrates 12th year hosting creative stewards

Sample artwork
Field sketches by Nina Khashchina in South Baranof Wilderness, Tongass National Forest. Photo courtesy Nina Khashchina.

ALASKA – Artists have long contributed to the preservation and interpretation of our public lands. Just as nineteenth century painters inspired pride in America’s wild landscapes and influenced designation of our first parks, today’s artists continue to play a vital role in connecting people to the natural world.

In the Alaska Region, the Forest Service partners with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to sponsor Voices of the Wilderness, an artist residency program that has grown to a multi-agency effort and is now celebrating its 12th anniversary.

This program is unique in that it is modeled after traditional residencies in the National Parks –but with a twist.  

Instead of staying at a remote wilderness cabin, our participating artists pair up with a wilderness specialist and both actively engage in stewardship projects, such as research, monitoring and education.

This gives the artists a sense of the stewardship behind America’s public lands, fostering an artistic exploration of these natural and cultural treasures. The hoped-for, and often achieved, result is artwork that communicates the meaning of these treasured lands. In the end, both the Forest Service and the public benefit greatly.

Artists join as volunteers and handle getting themselves to and from Alaska. In exchange for this opportunity, the artists donate a work of art and host a community-related event, such as a slideshow lecture or workshop.

The program is open to artists of all mediums, ranging from poets and dancers, to painters and sculptors.

Since the start of the program in 2010, over 80 artists spent time in Alaska’s Wilderness areas creating their works of art while enjoying all that the Alaska Region has to offer.

Artist sitting by the shore, painting. Snowcapped mountains in the distant background.
Kathy Hodge paints from View Beach in Harriman Cove, Chugach National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo by Barbara Lydon.
Illustrator, wearing fishing boots, laying back while drawing in a pad while next to a strea.
Jay Crosby, illustrator in Kootznoowoo Wilderness, Tongass National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.
A kayaer floating on his kayak on a stream
Sepand Shahab, composer in Misty Fjords National Monument, Tongass National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

Artist in the wilderness painting a protrait of the wilderness
2012 artist in residence Susan Watkins paints the breathtaking view of College Fiord in Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area, Chugach National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo by Barbara Lydon.

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