About the Program

About the Artist-in-Residence Program

The BLM Artist-in-Residence program is founded on the belief that artists look closely at the way the world works, notice things that others may have missed, challenge ideas, experiment, and create new opportunities to look at the world and its resources.

Through the program, artists are encouraged to use their observational skills in portraying the variety of cultural and natural resources on BLM lands such as historic structures, artifacts, cultural landscapes, geologic features, and plant and animal life.

Ultimately, the artists translate the resources – the heart of BLM's mission – into images, objects, and performances that bring others enjoyment and forge a deeper understanding of our nation's public lands.  


Artist-in-Residence Program Management

The BLM Artist-in-Residence program is managed at the local level by a participating BLM field office or site, often in conjunction with one or more partner organizations. Participating sites often change from year to year.

Each participating site has the flexibility of crafting their Artist-in-Residence program as it best suits their needs and resources, provided they keep within overall program guidelines. Program essentials include the following:


Artist(s) committed to a public lands connection

The primary element of the BLM Artist-in-Residence program is an artist (or artists) interested in visiting, experiencing and connecting with public lands; drawing inspiration for art; creating art inspired by their experience; sharing elements of their experience with the public through a public presentation; and providing a digital copy of some of the art created.

The term artist is defined broadly and includes traditional practices (such as painting, drawing and photography) and other types of art including but not limited to sculpture, pottery, textiles, writing, filmmaking, dance and music.

The key is identifying an artist who pairs well with public lands and the program envisioned, the staff capacity for support, and the area’s management goals. 


Local BLM capacity for support 

A BLM Artist-in-Residence program is managed at the local level by a participating BLM field office or its designee. Each participating field office has the flexibility of crafting their Artist-in-Residence program as it best suits their needs and capacity while keeping within the overall program guidelines. 

Sites hosting a BLM Artist in Residence are encouraged to collaborate with community partners, friends’ groups and others who may be able to assist with a variety of tasks and support.


Direct, in-person connection with public lands

With a BLM Artist-in-Residence program, the artist will have an opportunity to experience and connect to public lands directly and in a manner sufficient to draw artistic inspiration. This is often a residency at a facility or campground on public lands, but onsite residency is not a requirement as long as the artist is able to make a public lands connection significant and meaningful enough to inspire their art.

However the hands-on connection to public lands is designed, the key is for the artist to have a public lands experience sufficient to inspire and inform the creation of their art.


Public presentation & digital copies of art

An artist provides some type of public presentation as part of their BLM Artist-in-Residence program. This brings the program full circle and serves to share the artist’s experience and connect a broader public audience to public lands through the artist’s direct experience.

The presentation can take a variety of forms. Examples include talks, lectures, hands-on workshops, exhibits, demonstrations, concert performances and facilitated discussions.

The artist also provides the BLM at least one digital copy of art for use in connecting people to public lands and helping promote the BLM Artist-in-Residence program. 


Formal agreements

A BLM Artist-in-Residence program is established through written agreements facilitated by the local site contact.

Generally, every BLM Artist in Residence will complete a basic agreement form and the OF-301a Volunteer Service Agreement. Additional forms may be required; these will be facilitated by the local site contact.


Connecting with an Artist-in-Residence opportunity

Each participating site has its own application process and timeline. To facilitate this, each designates an Artist-in-Residence contact responsible for onsite coordination and scheduling of program participants.

To see a current list of participating sites and contacts, click here. This site is updated throughout the year, as opportunities are announced.

If you are interested in a BLM-managed area that’s not listed, consider reaching out directly to the site or field office to ask if they have an Artist-in-Residence program or may be planning to start one. A directory of BLM offices is available here.

AiR Resources

Featured Photos

Along with a young budding artist, Meg Freyermuth paints the beautiful Organ Mountains as its first Artist-in-Residence. Photo by Daniella Barraza, Student Conservation Association Intern.

Check out our @mypubliclands Artist in Residence Flickr album to view AiR art and artists on public lands.