ANF looking for artist-in-residence

Photo submitted to Times Observer The painting Ironwood Trail, by Thomas Paquette of Warren, is featured on the Allegheny National Forest website as an example of art inspired by the forest. The forest is piloting an Artist-in-Residency program starting in January and is looking for volunteers.

The Allegheny National Forest is offering an opportunity for an artist to spend two weeks living on the forest.

In commemoration of its centennial celebration, the Allegheny National Forest is piloting an artist-in-residence (AiR) program.

The program is intended to provide learning opportunities for the public and help connect local communities with public lands, nature, the use of natural resources, and “our emotional ties to natural beauty through self-expression,” Public Affairs Officer Christopher Leeser said.

The first residency opportunity will be from Jan 17 through 31, 2023.

“We hope to continue the program by offering one residency during the spring, summer, and autumn of 2023,” Leeser said. “The AiR program will become part of the ANF Centennial Commemoration in 2023.”

Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

“Artists of all mediums are encouraged to apply – painting, writing, sculpture, dance, music, photography, etc.,” Leeser said.

“The selected artist will sign a volunteer agreement with the US Forest Service,” he said.

Housing will be provided to the artist during the residency and “a $500 stipend is available to defer costs for the artist.” The artist will have access to networking and field days with Forest Service employees.

The artist must donate “one piece of work from and representative of their residency by April 28, 2023,” Leeser said. “The artist must allow unrestricted use of their piece of work.”

“Artwork may be accessioned into the forest’s permanent collection, used in exhibits, used for educational purposes, and/or auctioned by partner entities,” he said.

The artist will also provide a public program or presentation – demonstration, workshop, reading, open studio – as part of the agreement.

When ANF personnel were looking into AiR programs that had experienced success, they found that Warren artist Thomas Paquette “had participated in a number of similar programs across the nation,” Leeser said. “His advice guided how we built parts of the new Allegheny National Forest AiR program.”

“Artist-in-residence programs are set up for various reasons,” Paquette said. “The organization usually provides a place for artists in any discipline to live and work while having an immersive experience in whatever the place has to offer.”

“Often, the immersion is in nature, as when national parks – or in this case, a national forest – offers AiRs,” he said. “Other places that have AiRs might be museums, colleges and universities, or a historical site. Just about anywhere that finds artists interested in their core mission could have one.”

Paquette is familiar with federal AiR programs.

“I have been the artist-in-residence at Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, and Acadia National Parks, and loved it,” he said. “In each, there was so much more freedom and ability to create than if I had simply been camping out.”

Paquette has not been an artist-in-residence on the ANF, but his painting “Ironwood Trail” is featured on the forest’s website “as an example of Allegheny National Forest inspired art,” Leeser said.

“Just starting out, I think the Allegheny National Forest’s program will develop its own sense of mission as it grows,” Paquette said. “Just now, I can imagine any artist who thinks they might find inspiration in the forest to apply. They will certainly have an experience that will last.”

“Not only does it provide a way for artists to become more immersed in a place where they may find meaningful inspiration for their work, but it gives back to the organization by the interaction that their public or employees or students gain from the insights an artist might provide to them,” Paquette said. “Too, the artist then has artwork – whether a musical score, a painting, story, sculpture or a dance – that is a credit to the organization. There is value in that.”

“As the ANF’s program moves forward, who knows where it might lead in terms of programming or accommodations?” Paquette said. “But for now, it is something that the team that put it together can be very proud to have done.”

“This is the first national forest artist-residency program I know of, and I suspect it will be vibrant going forward, an inspiration to both artists and those touched by the ANF being interpreted and celebrated through their works.”

Further details can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/allegheny.


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