The Smoky Mountains have inspired painters and poets long before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in the 20th century. This year the park builds on the land’s creative influence as it pilots a resident artist program to inspire artists and connect with the public.
Six artists will live and work in the park in separate stints through November in the park’s Artist-in-Residence (Air) program. Each selected artist spends about a month in the park.
Air is part of the National Park Service’s volunteer program. Artists aren’t paid; they live in park employee housing and get an art supply stipend. Friends of the Smokies pays housing and art stipend costs in the program that costs a total of $6,000, said Dana Soehn, the park’s volunteer coordinator.
Selected artists’ disciplines range from painting to videography to paper relief images. As part of the residency each will conduct a public program during his or her residency. They also will contribute a piece of art inspired by their time in the mountains to the park. The artwork must be donated within a year of the artist’s residency.
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