The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Golden Hills RC&D and the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway are excited to announce the Waubonsie State Park Artist in Residence awards for the Spring of 2019! Many quality applications were received from a variety of disciplines and artists in six different states. Three artists were selected to fill residencies from January through April of next year. Artists receiving the residency awards for 2019 include Thomas Harnack, Vanessa Lacy and Zack Jones. The goal of the residency program is to reach a broader audience of park-goers, thus increasing the number of visitors and ultimately educating more people about the Loess Hills ecosystem. The artists and visitors will engage with the natural resources of the park through a visual arts lens. This year’s residency program’s three artists will use their time at Waubonsie to immerse themselves in the landscape as a source of inspiration and opportunity to intensely focus on their work.
Tom Harnack was born and raised in Carroll, Iowa area and has been a dedicated artist for the past 37 years. While at Waubonsie he plans to focus his work on ceramics. Excited about the opportunity for a residency program at Waubsonsie State Park, Tom reflects on the Loess Hills, “I feel as an artist, nature is my main inspiration. When I fire my wood kiln, it takes 7 days outdoors. Whether it be the owls in the grove, or the stars before sunrise, it’s being in the natural environment that inspires my creativity.”
Vanessa Lacy grew up in rural Adrian, Missouri. She currently owns a gallery in Kansas City, Missouri, although she often escapes the city to paint in rural areas to seek nature as a source of inspiration and tranquility. Vanessa’s vision for her residency fits well with that of the program as a whole. “I believe art and the parks have always gone hand in hand. The park inspires the artist and the artist’s work inspires more visitors to visit.” Vanessa’s work will be primarily oil paint on panel, and her outreach will feature painting workshops.
Zack Jones was raised in Malvern, Iowa but began his self-taught art career while living in Tempe, Arizona. While there, he was mentored by lifetime artist Sergio Ladron De Guevara, who taught Zack traditional art and to paint with love. Since returning to his hometown in 2006, he has done just that –connecting his art to historical preservation, recreation and rural Southwest Iowa. Zack is currently doing a residency program at Whiterock Conservancy, which ties into his goal of connecting traditional landscape paintings to conservation programs. “I would like to use my paintings to highlight the unique geography while highlighting Waubonsie State Park. My artwork is at its best when there is a personal connection and common interest with others.”
Artist Sarah Berkeley is currently piloting the residency program at Waubonsie and helping to finalize program details. Sarah was born on the North Shore of Massachusetts and subsequently spent her childhood in Michigan and Colorado. She works across media questioning cultural norms such as the 9:00 to 5:00 work day, the office environment, indoor living, gender stereotypes and the voluntary sharing of personal data. She creates public interventions and durational performances which she documents using photography, video and GPS.
This first-in-the-state Artist in Residency program at one of Iowa’s State Parks is held at one of the region’s ecological and recreational treasures. Located in the Loess Hills of Southwest Iowa, the park’s 2,000 acres feature prairies, savannas, and woodlands which are home to diverse flora and fauna, not to mention breathtaking vistas. Waubonsie State Park Manager Matt Moles has been working with artist Sarah Berkeley, Golden Hills RC&D Project Coordinator Lance Brisbois and Loess Hills National Scenic Byway Coordinator Rebecca Castle to develop and launch the project. While there have been other artist residency programs offered through the National Parks System and select parks in other states, this will be the first such program in one of Iowa’s State Parks. The program is loosely modeled after similar regional programs such as the Residency Program at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. The artists will receive lodging in a studio cabin and a primitive studio space in the park at no cost for the duration of the residency. In return, artists will deliver at least one public program per month of their residency and donate one piece of art to the park at the conclusion of their stay.
Waubonsie State Park is only about an hour’s drive from Omaha or Lincoln, NE; two hours from Kansas City; and 2.5 hours from Des Moines. It is located near the southern end of the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. To learn more about the Artist in Residence program and the artists, visit www.goldenhillsrcd.org/artist-in-residence.