Art can do its part for public lands

By Tim Lydon

Dozens of artist residencies have sprouted on public lands across the West. Most are hosted by national parks, national forests and wildlife refuges, but research stations and even conservation groups also offer programs. These grassroots efforts foster important connections between people and place at a critical time.

The link between art and the American landscape runs deep. Early on, artists such as George Catlin and Thomas Cole helped create a national identity by celebrating the wildness of American lands and contrasting them with the far more tame European landscape. The connection was well established by 1872, when Thomas Morans paintings and William Henry Jacksons photographs helped inspire Congress to designate the world’s first national park at Yellowstone.

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