Zion National Park Artists-in-Residence program contributes to the ‘value of wild places and nature’ – St George News

Zion National Park Artists-in-Residence program contributes to the ‘value of wild places and nature’ – St George News


ST. GEORGE — The tradition of creating art and sharing it with the public in Zion National Park reaches back to the 1800s. The yearly Artist-in-Residence program begins this month.

“We are excited to welcome three new artists to Zion National Park through the Artist-in-Residence program. In partnership with the Zion Forever project, we believe these artists will add to the vibrancy, culture, and history of the park,” Ally O’Rullian, Zion National Park spokesperson, said. “Their work provides enjoyment and inspiration to park visitors and contributes to the ongoing conversation about the value of wild places and nature.”

More than 50 residency programs across the country feature artists inspired by the landscape and nature of America’s national parks. Beginning in February, the first artist will be Kathy Hodge from Rhode Island. Hodge is an award-winning artist with many exhibitions and shows and has served as the Artist in Residence at many U.S. national parks.

Zion National Park partners with the nonprofit Zion Forever Project and will host two other artists for the 2023 Artist-in-Residence program. Since the program’s beginning, there have been poets, dancers, musicians, painters, photographers, and other artists from across the United States.

In 2023, Zion National Park will host the following:

The Zion Forever Project Stephani Lyon, Director of Philanthropy, said they are excited for the new artists to participate.

The Artist-in-Residence at Zion National Park for February is Kathy Hodge, Alaska, unspecified date | Photo courtesy of Kathy Hodge Facebook page, St. George News

“Original art has played a critical role in our National Parks even before the park service was formed,” Lyon said. “For decades, the Zion Forever Project has supported art programs and events in Zion, including donating the famed ‘Zion Canyon’ painting by Frederick Dellenbaugh. We know this year’s group will carry the tradition of those masterworks.”

The first artist, Kathy Hodge, said she always wanted to return to Zion National Park after visiting for a few days on a previous vacation.

“I have been very fortunate to have been Artist-in-Residence in over a dozen National Parks and Forests, several on the Colorado Plateau,” Hodge told St. George News. “But those few days were enough to convince me that Zion is, in my opinion, the most beautiful for the color and immensity of the canyon walls and grand vistas. I have applied for this residency almost every year since 2013, which is why I was so thrilled to finally be chosen as Artist in Residence in 2023.”

Hodge works primarily in oil on canvas but also creates in egg tempera, charcoal drawing, and printmaking. Being an artist can be a challenge, she said. 

“A working artist usually has a choice between two things, time to work or money to support oneself,” Hodge said. “Lately, the artist is also responsible for the marketing of their work, as the gallery model has shifted responsibility to the artist.”

Until recently, she worked full-time but never gave up painting outside work hours. Hodge said it left her little time for other things, but now she is a full-time artist.

“I really appreciate the foundation I have built in my steady decades of work,” Hodge said.

She is also grateful for the residency in the park.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to the National Park Service and Zion National Park for these amazing opportunities and their work to protect and preserve the incredible landscapes of our country for all of us to marvel at and learn from,” Hodge said.

Artwork from Utah-based oil painter Bonnie Conrad, a featured artist on the 2023 tour | Photo courtesy of Arts to Zion, St. George News

She advises those who want to create art may still need a day job to support their work. But this will give one the advantage of doing the art one feels drawn to without the compromise of working for the market. 

“If it sells, great! But keep your direction pure. And make every effort not to let that day job or other obligations cause you to put your work on the shelf until you ‘have time,’” Hodge said. “Of course, life can put many barriers in the way of your work, but if you can keep a thread going, the continuity will be immensely valuable to your work. And draw, draw, draw!”

The program includes housing for one month provided by the park. The Resident artist will:

  • Present two public programs tailored to their medium, interest, experience, and audience.
  • Host periodic, open studio hours to interact with visitors.
  • Submit an original piece of work within six months of leaving Zion.

The artist’s works may be added to the park’s permanent museum and interpretive collections. Also, the Zion National Park Forever Project may have the artwork help to support the Artist in Residence Program financially.

According to a news release from the National Park Service, “This art helps visitors understand and appreciate Zion and reflects the National Park Service’s mission to conserve the park’s landscapes, plants, animals, and history.”

To learn more about the selection process and see past artists’ work on Zion National Park’s website, visit past artists’ work online.

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