The Hudson River School painters of the mid-1800s were instrumental in the birth of national parks. Until this time, American artists had focused primarily on portraits of people and depictions of historical events. The Hudson River School turned its attention instead to American landscapes, providing the public with its first interpretation of parts of the country most had never seen. Talk of preserving these great places ensued and the national park system was born.

Today, art continues to inspire us to protect these great places, even in post-pandemic 2021. SNP Trust provided the seed funding to launch Shenandoah National Park’s Artist in Residence program in 2013 and we are proud to continue to fund it annually. Artists live and work in the park for three-week sessions and engage park visitors in public programs.

Project Title: Artist-in-Residence Program

Project Purpose: to inspire artists and visitors to think deeply about the value of Shenandoah National Park — to inspire stewardship of the Park

Project Goals:

  • to understand the landscape of Shenandoah in new and unique ways
  • to increase awareness about important concepts, such as climate change and wildlife management, through images and sound
  • to enrich visitor experiences in the Park

Project Impact: By inviting professional artists to interpret the landscape through traditional and contemporary art, we provide programming and inspiration for visitors for 15 weeks every year, encouraging them to think deeply about their connections and experiences with Shenandoah National Park and — hopefully — become good stewards of the Park.

Project Funding: $14,000

2018 Artist-In-Residence, Malia Furtado.

2022 Artist-In-Residence, Jillian Sico.

Former Artists-in-Residence

Sonya Lara – Poet & Essayist

Sonya led a public program on May 6th to kick off Wildflower Weekend, reflecting on birdsong and challenging visitors to think deeply about the scientific and social labeling of both birds and people in Shenandoah and beyond. 

“I think it’s kind of magical that the park will be fossilized in some of my poetry and creative nonfiction. Regardless of how the park evolves and changes years down the line, it’ll always be cemented in that one way that I was able to experience it.” 

See more of Sonya’s work here:

Nina Grauley – Scientific Illustrator

“Paying attention to the particularities of a community – whether it is made up of plants or people- is an act of love,” said Nina. “I very much have a researcher’s heart – I love looking at the world and asking questions. I get incredibly excited about big academic ideas and tiny clumps of moss on the sidewalk. This world is so big and so beautiful and the closer you look at anything the more exciting it gets – but also the more obvious it becomes that our relationships with ourselves, each other, and with nature are broken. I believe that looking closely at nature can teach us more about what it means to be human, and how we can begin the process of healing together.”

See more of Nina’s work here:

Paul Atkinson – Poet & Essayist

Paul Atkinson is a self-taught American artist working in the photographic medium.  His work celebrates not only the natural landscape, but also explores the human landscape from a detached examination of what is left behind.  He employs the assumed truthfulness of the camera to present a reality that frequently transcends the limits of human visual perception, through both night photography and by including light from the near-infrared spectrum.

“In a place like Shenandoah National Park, the possibilities are endless for a photographer,” he said. “Having this space to delve deeper and connect with the landscape will give me the freedom to try new things, to experiment, to explore. My art lets me visualize so much more than just what my eyes can see – I want to share that excitement.” 

See more of Paul’s work here:

Ines Sun – Calligrapher

Ines Sun is a multidisciplinary visual artist who has harmoniously immersed herself in the crossroads of East and West. It inspires her paintings and installation projects.

She went to the China Academy of Art in China to master Chinese calligraphy and brush painting, where she accumulated a substantial body of work. Her strokes of paint flow like Abstraction Expressionist, yet with the aesthetic and discipline of Chinese brush painting.

See more of Ines’s work here:

Jill Haley – Musician & Composer

Jill creates music inspired by national parks and performs her compositions around the world, accompanied by video of the places that sparked her creativity. Her primary instruments are oboe and English horn. 

See more of Jill’s work here:

Jillian Sico – Printer, Papermaker, Bookbinder

Jillian is a printer, papermaker, and bookbinder pursuing an MFA in Book Arts at the University of Alabama. Her work is inspired by the slow, quiet reality that she encounters in wild places and natural processes. Making paper by hand, growing fibers and dye plants, and carving wood all require a quiet, meditative patience. Slowing down, engaging fully with the materials, and spending time outdoors allows Jillian to think deeply about how we, as humans, connect with nature. Jillian was selected as the May artist and was in the park from May 9-302022. For her public program, she set up a papermaking station for the public to come make their own paper on Wildflower Weekend. She used shredded paper blended with water and visitors were able to use her papermaking tools to go through the process and watch their paper dry in the sun to take home with them. This was enjoyed by people of all ages.

See more of Jillian’s work here: Frogsong Press

Sandy Kessler Kaminski – Sketch Artist/Drawing

Sandy believes in the power of art to transform individuals and communities. She is influenced by the world around us. A classically trained artist, she has integrated contemporary materials and processes into her work. As a result, she is able to make thoughtful, interesting, and exciting works including long lasting exterior paintings, pastels and sculpture. Over the past decade she has used an approach to public art that is both reflective of the people involved in its creation and inclusive of the viewer. Sandy was selected as the July artist and was in the park from July 15 –August 52022. Sandy had two programs in the park. One was with the SNPT and their donor’s and the other was with two separate youth groups that were visiting the park. One of these groups was called Elk Hill School and the other was called Art 180. It was a wonderful and successful program that engaged the youth who were able to learn a little bit about Sandy and her processes as an artist.

See more of Sandy’s work here: Sandy Kessler Kaminski

Ken Heyman – Plein Air Painter

Ken relishes the pleasure of painting. He prefers plein air painting, the act of painting outdoors, for the simple purity of the experience. Working directly on site in nature to capture the essence of the landscape forces spontaneity into the process; including the changing sun, wind, and weather. Ken layers the color on thickly with a palette knife or big brush, focusing his attention to the elements of color theory and composition. He likes to work fast, and transfer the physical energy to the canvas with visible brush strokes and motion. Ken was selected as the August artist and was in the park from August 15 –September 62022. For Ken’s public program, he staged himself at an overlook while he painted and talked about the process and methods of Plein Air painting to those who came to enjoy the views and Ken’s insight.

See more of Ken’s work here: Hey Man Art – Paintings, Art Gallery, Oil Painting

Jaime Barks – Painter

Jaime grew up roaming the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Those countless hours she spent wandering the woods as a child are evident in her work which is based on places she has been. Jaime uses a combination of reference images and sketches done on location to capture the feeling of a place. Jaime was selected as the September artist and was in the park from September 7-292022. For her public program, Jaime presented up at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center about her process of painting while out on the trail, and shared a little bit about Leave No Trace principles and tips and tricks for hiking alone.

See more of Jaime’s work here: The Art of Jaime Barks

Carl Johnson – Photographer

Carl practices photography, and set a goal to explore the Park with his camera as much as possible to get a sense of place.

Nancy Hershberger, Fiber Artist – May

As a former Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Manassas National Battlefield Park, Nancy says that “artists are influenced by their surroundings and experiences. I never miss an opportunity to encourage artists to look at our National Parks from a different perspective; that of an artist-in-residence. Shenandoah National Park is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places in the country. I have no doubt that it will influence my work for years to come.”

See more of Nancy’s work here: Nancy Hershberger Fiber Artist

Danielle Austen, Fine Art Photographer – July

Danielle Austen is an award-winning fine art photographer specializing in intimate portraits of the environment. She has been photographing for over 30 years, professionally for over 20 years. Danielle received her BFA from Cornell University and worked as a graphic designer for seven years before attending the master’s program at the Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, in photojournalism. She has been selected in seven Artist-in-Residency programs across the United States including Shenandoah National Park, Rocky Mountain NP, Great Smoky Mountains NP, twice at Acadia NP, Everglades NP, and was a Full Fellowship recipient at the Vermont Studio Center.

See more of Danielle’s work here: Danielle Austen New Jersey Fine Art Photographer

Michelle Stitzlein, Sculptor – August

Michelle creates sculptures with found items that resonate with fortune and abundance, but that also address ideas of economic stress and natural depletion. Utilizing materials she scavenges and collects, her work is mindful of the resourcefulness and bootstrap mentality of farmers, homemakers and the depression era, as well as folk artists and craftsmen in developing countries. Her work and imagery venerate imperfections found in the handmade, the patched/mended and secondhand and pays deference to nature and habitat enduring continual loss and destruction due to the industrial pursuit of new and raw resources.

See more of Michelle’s work here: Michelle Stitzlein (

Nathan Cornelius, Musician/Composer – October

Nathan Cornelius pursues a multifaceted career in performance, composition, and teaching. Trained as a classical guitarist, he has received competition first prizes for his solo, concerto, and chamber performances on guitar. His performances and research focus on guitar music of the 20th and 21st centuries, exploring how modern and postmodern composers articulate cultural conceptions of time and memory through intertextuality with works of the Western tradition. As a composer, Cornelius searches for the hidden beauty in sounds both fresh and familiar, opening listeners’ ears to new colors, textures, and ultimately, new ways of hearing.

See more of Nathan’s work here: Nathan Cornelius – Guitarist / Composer / Educator

Patrick Faile, Fine Art – Unfortunately, Paul was unable to participate in the program at the last minute due to a water pipe bursting in his house.

See his work here: Patrick Faile Fine Art

In 2020, over 375 applications for the 2020 Artist-in-Residence program were received. 5 Artists were selected:

Because of Jennifer’s experience living in a variety of environments, including several major northeast cities and thru hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 2003, she finds that the focus of her printmaking and photography is about observing landscape, land use and the conflict within those places. What is noticed when moving through a landscape or place is important for her and she make images based on that experience.

Harlan is considered one of the world’s premier contemporary enamelists. Over the span of his forty-year career, he has appeared in dozens of exhibitions and has his work in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the Shippo Art Museum in Ama-City, Japan; the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. As an enamelist who melds time-honored techniques, Harlan has transformed expectations of the medium.

Susan’s contemporary landscape paintings are created from observations about the environment
and her personal experiences related to the changing local landscape. Her observations of nature, and related
research are an integral part of her artistic practice and serve as the foundation for the artwork that she makes.

Paul began burning and scorching wood and paper to create his images in the early 1990’s. Since then, his fire drawings have been shown in group and solo exhibitions in art centers, museums and galleries nationally. His current work evolved as a result of his conscious effort to embrace art historical traditions while rejecting the traditional processes.

Cody’s work concentrates on abandoned farms, crumbling homes, neglected churches, aging cemeteries, forgotten cars and other objects, set within the vastness of the southwestern landscape, which he expresses as a narrative of “the western abandon.” He works almost entirely with infrared film, using a range of different cameras, including a 4 x 5, a hand-made pinhole, and a 6 x 17 panoramic. Shooting pictures in the early-morning or late-afternoon with a black-and-white infrared film is what he enjoys best because of the dreamy effect and the length of the exposure times required to get a great shot.

This program was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in two ways. First, Harlan Butt was originally scheduled to be the artist-in-residence during the month of May, but the park and all lodging was closed.
Fortunately, we were able to reschedule Harlan for September. The second impact was that the public programs were adjusted to reflect the situation. This turned out to provide an interesting opportunity to film the artists and host watch party events with the artists which reached an audience in the thousands and provide greater publicity for the artist and the artist-in-residence program. Susan Danko hosted a private in-person event for the
donors and board members of the Shenandoah National Park Trust which was held outdoors and limited to 12 people to meet the requirements of the park’s Covid-19 safety plan.

May Artist- Julie Elkins received a BFA in Craft and Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2002. She first gained recognition for her porcelain sculptures exhibited at SOFA Chicago in 2003. From there, her work made its way into permanent collections of The Mint Museum of Craft and Design, The Fuller Craft Museum, and the Kamn Teapot Foundation. Working with porcelain, Julie builds miniature worlds filled with layers of details. The imagery she gravitates towards includes places, people or events in her surroundings that have a particular, haunting, beauty or intangible mystery. She studies the intricate entanglements of history and the physical residue of the inescapable reality of the passing of time.

July Artist- Lisa Lebofsky is a nomadic plein air painter, collaborating with nature and people. Lisa finds inspiration by traveling extensively, often to remote parts of the world, in order to immerse herself in different environments and cultures.  To a great extent, these personal interactions inform what areas and what subject matter is ultimately painted. Currently, Lisa is in the midst of a multi-year mission to travel around North America painting en plein air, to better know the changes happening in our environment and the people it is affecting.

August Artist– In her sweeping abstract paintings, Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann merges traditional Chinese and Japanese ink painting techniques with an approach rooted in Western abstractionism. Katherine received her BA from Brown University and MFA from Maryland Institute College for the Art. She has attended many other residencies including at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

September Artist – Matt Venuti is an internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter who accompanies himself playing rare and captivating melodic-percussive acoustic instruments developed in Switzerland, as well as the highly expressive and dynamic Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI) wind-synthesizer that he layers with a looper. Matt’s a longtime bandleader of The Venusians with deep musical roots in San Francisco. He’s also a poet and storyteller with a history of performing at major festivals, events and diverse venues throughout the Americas and abroad, including the Main TED conference and 4 different TEDx conferences.

October Artist – Jerry Ginsberg strives to capture the very best of Nature’s beauty through photography and has photographed all 61 of the National Parks with his medium format camera. His photographs have been published in hundreds of magazines, books and travel catalogs including Backpacker, Sierra, National Parks, the Smithsonian and Outdoor Photographer.

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