We were so fortunate to be able to host two artists during this summer's Great Basin National Park Foundation - University of Nevada, Reno Great Basin Artist in Residency!
Reports from the field - Mark Maynard
Literary artist and professor of English at Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno, Nevada
When I arrived at Great Basin National Park in July, I came with a project in mind: a collection of stories and artifacts to create a record, a sort of intentional anthropology tied to this particular place through the words and images of its visitors.
I was not counting on how deeply connected I would get to the park, its staff and visitors, and the residents of Baker, Nevada. The opportunity to stay for nearly three weeks without running water, electricity, or the worldly distractions of the smartphone, the internet, and streaming entertainment, was transformative for me. Great Basin National Park demands exploration, and a dedication of time to sense the changes – in weather, in light and darkness, in sounds, and smells, and sights – in order to begin to understand all it has to offer.
My residence was an intensely productive period; it planted seeds for several new stories and essays I look forward to honing in the coming months. I was also able to share some new perspectives in a public presentation built around experiencing the natural world in a state of writerly observation. Happily, it seemed to resonate, as I’m still getting notes, photos, and other creative materials sent to me by some of those in attendance. I am grateful for the opportunities the residence created, and I look forward to sharing some of the work that took root this summer in the coming months and years.
Reports from the field - Paul Crow
Visual artist and associate professor of art at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah
I came to Great Basin National Park with a handful of big-picture issues in mind: The increasing impact of global climate change on the Western landscape; the fact that parts of the Great Basin just east of the park are in “exceptional” drought conditions (the most severe category); the increase in wildfires throughout the West resulting from climate change coupled with past questionable fire management, and a curiosity about how these forces would be manifest on the ground in a mountain oasis encircled by parched basins of sand and salt.
What I found was more immediate, human sized and intimate: three creeks the width of my height; groves of slow-growing curl-leaf mahogany trees; hours-old tracks of a young mountain lion following elk calves; a seemingly untouched bit of forest that I could spend the day in but still walk across in 20 minutes.
I explored up and down two creeks and the wood, returning to each over the three weeks of the residency to photograph, record video and, mostly, to let the experience of these places slowly saturate me. Time spent in those places taught me about the fragile tenacity of life in an island of mountains and about how fire can turn a living, sheltering forest into a naked openness where even birds cannot hide.
I left the forests, streams, mountains and storms grateful for the opportunity for so much time outside and for the chance to rediscover, even temporarily, the fundamental birthright of our most fundamental connection with the world we did not make.
Show Happening now! Austin Pratt, 2021 Great Basin Artist in Residence
August 8- October 14, 2022, The Lilley Museum Front Door Gallery, University of Nevada, Reno
Artist Reception: Thursday September 8, 6-8pm, All are welcome
Austin’s Artist Statement
In the Summer of 2021, I was fortunate to spend 21 days camping alone as Artist-in-Residence at Great Basin National Park, located in an extremely remote region of eastern Nevada, a land which has been stewarded for centuries by Goshute and Western Shoshone peoples. Given the time and space there, I reflected on questions of history, place, narrative, scale, painting, and love.
My work exists primarily through a studio practice of painting, drawing, and assemblage. Often grainy and caustic in appearance, his painting consists of collecting and reprocessing fragmented images, textures, and patterns from wide sources. Through a painterly organic abstraction and idiosyncratic mark-making, the paintings vibrate between elusive near-recognizable images and real physical objects. At GBNP, I was immersed in a wealth of visual and experiential information, inspired from the micro and granular levels of rock and plant distribution patterns and textures, insect marking, human drama, to the grandeur of the space, sky, and history of the Great Basin.
Environmentalist and scholar Richard G. Lillard once described Nevada, “a land that is geology by day and astronomy at night.” This beautiful observation is fact, yet only a container to support the larger poetic subtext that Nevada is alive. Vast, mysterious, and diverse–in biology, story, and pattern.
The Great Basin Artist in Residence program supports regional Great Basin artists to camp for 2-4 weeks in Great Basin National Park. Artists complete one public program while at the Park and one in their home community. The application for this competitive residency takes place in the spring.