Museum Monday: 2018 AiR Show

By Claire Schmotzer

The 2018 AiR Show is on display at the Friends Visitors’ Center until March 15th. AiR is the annual artist in residence program sponsored by Friends of Black Rock and the Bureau of Land Management. Clairissa Stephens and Teal Francis received the 2018 residencies, and their works are featured at the showcase. Read on the learn about the program and artists, and how you can be involved in 2019!

The AiR Program

Artist in Residence is a Bureau of Land Management Program with residencies across the West. The program features artists of all types, including visual art, music, and written word. The program’s goal is to bring attention to BLM-managed lands through artwork. During residency, selected artists experience the land as a source of inspiration. According to the BLM’s website, “Ultimately, the artists translate the resources — the heart of BLM’s mission — into images, objects, and performances that bring others enjoyment and a deeper understanding of the public lands.”

Friends and the BLM began hosting Artists in Residence in the Black Rock in 2014. Our artists spend two weeks exploring the National Conservation Area. They also engage with locals through a Community Engagement Project. Past projects include working with seniors, students at Gerlach School, and presenting at the Black Rock Rendezvous campout. After completing a 2 week residency in Gerlach and the NCA, artists have some time at home to complete their projects. Finally, the residency ends with shows in Gerlach, Winnemucca, and Reno.

2018 AiR Artists

Teal Francis

Teal Francis

Teal Francis is a printmaker who is well traveled in the West. Because she lives in Reno, it was easy for her to get to the Black Rock. Teal’s work uses local animals to explore how humans interact with the landscape. Even though they’re in their native landscape, the animals wear human clothes and don’t interact with the scenery. When asked about them, Teal explains the animals like this, “…They’re kind of static. They’re in this weird, in-between area of existing within then the landscape but not totally there because there’s something that’s separating them. They’re not behaving like normal animals…” Teal loves exploring the outdoors. AiR was her first trip to the Black Rock NCA, and she loved all the different areas and habitats she visited.

Clairissa Stephens

Clairissa Stephens

Clairissa Stephens is a studio artist based in Oregon City, Oregon. Clairissa’s AiR work is part of her Desert Waterlines series, which explores drought, water, and climate change in the high desert. Clairissa’s interest in desert hydrology is due to a drought that happened when she studied in Reno. As a result of the project, Clairissa travelled to many places, including our Black Rock Desert Playa. Clairissa also draws plants and their roots. Her AiR work includes two triptychs of the Playa and one plant drawing. During her residency, she visited Gerlach School and helped the kids make watercolor art and experiment with playa salt paint.

2019 and Beyond

Friends of Black Rock and the Bureau of Land Management are partnering again for 2019! The call for artists is out, so you should get your application in before April 22nd. Who knows, maybe you’ll be one of the luck artists spending your summer exploring the Black Rock!