apply for one of the artist-in-residence (AIR) spots offered by the National Park Service.
I learned about the program from a 2009 RMSP classmate, did research on which parks were offering (around 29 in 2009), selected a few I wanted to learn more about through my camera and began the application process. The AIR programs offer an individual the opportunity to immerse in a park’s environment, history, community, etc. in ways that casual visits just can’t satisfy. Most programs provide accommodations in the park that run from one to three weeks during different parts of the year. Rarely is a stipend provided although some consideration may be made for materials required for the final work; the contribution of an original piece to the park on a non-exclusive, royalty-free basis is usually part of the program requirements. Other aspects usually include public presentations or involvement in park educational activities where the artist’s work enhances the public’s experience.
What did I need to apply? Most of the parks required submission of an artist statement outlining what the artist expected to gain from the residency and how the park would benefit from their work. All wanted to see samples of your work but rarely more than six images, usually printed or on CD. And of course they wanted an artist resume outlining experience, prior residencies, awards, shows, etc. The descriptions of the requirements made the whole process feel daunting – who was I to want to be considered among all the other wonderful artists from all media who would certainly apply?
[Photos by Mel Mann; taken during his residency.]