The Badlands of South Dakota have inspired generations of artists, and participants in the Artists in Residence program at Badlands National Park have included photographers, painters, printmakers, writers and poets, a ceramicist and a composer. They've produced some outstanding work, and you can now enjoy their creativity via a new on-line exhibit.
A number of parks offer Artists in Residence programs, and as the amount of work contributed by the artists grows, most sites have a common problem—there's not adequate space for public display of the material. On-line galleries are a good solution, and make the work available to a world-wide audience.
The exhibit on the website for Badlands National Park "has been created to highlight the artwork submissions from numerous artists who have served residencies since the program’s creation in 1996. Each year professional artists of all disciplines are selected to interpret this unique landscape for 4-6 weeks in the fall and spring months. Each artist provides a final artwork submission that becomes a part of the park’s museum collection."
A nice feature of the Badland's exhibit is the comments from some of the artists themselves. A park spokesperson noted, "Throughout the ongoing communication with former artists, it has been evident that their time spent in the Badlands has impacted each individual in profound ways."
One of those artists was photographer Jean Laughton, a program participant in the spring of 1999. Her comments confirm that her residence inspired a major change in her life.
"… at the time of my residency in the Badlands, I was living in New York City. Being able to dedicate my time to my photography, in a fantastic natural setting, was a wonderful opportunity. It was a magical time of the year to explore the Badlands. The park was quiet, with beautiful fog rolling through the Badlands many days. I felt as if I had stepped onto the moon and I experienced total solitude amidst exquisite inspirational beauty.
… In 2003, I moved from New York City to the tiny Badlands town of Interior, South Dakota – just down the road from the Badlands National Park. My residency and the Badlands themselves were among several factors that inspired my moving to the area to pursue my personal photography projects. I continue to photograph and never tire of the Badlands."
You can read more of Jean's statement, along with the comments from other artists, at this link. The complete on-line exhibit, featuring photography, a painters and visual arts gallery, and a poets, writers and composers gallery, can be viewed here.
Oil painter Polly Townsend has been selected as the spring 2011 Artist in Residence and will begin her residency March 19th. Polly has traveled all over the world painting large-scale landscapes of striking geological formations and is eager to capture the unique landscape of the Badlands through her work.
If you're interested in applying for a future Artists In Residence opportunity at Badlands, you'll find details at this link.
You don't have to be an artist to appreciate the unique features of Badlands National Park, and you'll find information to help plan a visit on the park website. To see the area at its best, plan to spend some time in the area in the early morning and late afternoon and evening. At high noon the harsh overhead light may make the scenery appear rather bleak, but when the sun is lower in the sky, it's a whole different world. There's ample evidence of that fact in the work posted in this gallery.