2018 Artists-in-Residence

Welcome to our 2018 Artist-in-Residence page. Here you will find all the content you need for our 2018 program. We are excited to be hosting the Black Rock Desert NCA Artist-in-Residence program for a fifth year thanks to support from the BLM.

Our Artist-in-Residence program seeks to promote awareness of the exceptional places protected within the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.

2018 Artists-in-Residence Program

The 2018 Artist-in-Residence program was opened up to all media types. Applications ranged from photographers to painters to sculptors to literary artists. Visual artist Clairissa Stephens and relief and screen print artist Teal Francis were selected for the 2018 program.

Both artists completed their residencies in the spring before returning home to complete their works. Each artist submitted five pieces for display in early 2019.


February 5-16, 2019. Humboldt County Library, Winnemucca. Reception 11:00-1:00 February 16.

February 17-28, 2019. The Potentialist Workshop, Reno. Reception 5:00-7:00 February 23.

March 1-15, 2019. Friends of Black Rock High Rock, Gerlach. Reception 5:00-7:00 March 1.

Clairissa Stephens

Artist Statement

Clairissa Stephen’s studio work and research explores a sense of place and relationship to the landscape and is influenced by interests in navigation, mapping, weather patterns, climate change, and extreme natural environments. She investigates relationships between macro and micro elements of the natural world, working primarily in painting, drawing and sculpture. In her most recent work, she explores the value of water as a precious resource. Her work is timely given the frequent and seemingly increasing droughts in the West. These artworks involve the visualization of hydrology, climate change and its relationship to the high desert.

Clairissa Stephens. Waterlines Mile 12.

The Great Basin contains the largest contiguous closed basins in North America. It is a dynamic and unique ecosystem resulting from many eras of dramatic climate change. While living in Reno, Nevada, my interest in remote desert landscapes was informed by a severe drought which steered my work to explore desert hydrology. Currently I am working on a project called Desert Waterlines, which explores water as a valuable resource, its relationship to climate change in the dry lakes of the Great Basin and visualizes hydrological data. I am conducting research at significant dry lakes to study geography, geology, and ecology, and to gather appropriate soil and botanical samples. During the AiR residency I continued this research and artwork about water systems about the playa.

Teal Francis

Artist Statement

During my two weeks in the Black Rock High Rock NCA, I was blown away by the variation in landscape–from the creek trail at Stevens Camp, to Trego and Black Rock Hot Springs, to the southern entrance to High Rock Canyon, to many mountain climbs and walks, and to the playa itself. The incredible expansive views of the land also truly captured me. Looking at these landforms, it felt like colors and textures had been layered on top of one another to create the scene before me. First soft grasses, then rocks in every shade of brown, building and building upwards until an azure sky is placed at the top. I wanted to create works that recreated some aspects of the layered landscapes I had experienced in the NCA, so in my collages, I layered prints on prints on paper and then on wood itself, its color and grain referencing the playa at the center of it all.

Teal Francis. Recreation.

Much of my work is about animals, and especially animals of the West. I am interested in these creatures because I feel they possess something I am always trying to reach: they are at peace with how they exist in the world and their relationship to it. When I was out in the NCA hiking and camping by myself, I was aware of how special and beautiful a place it is and how fortunate I was to have time there, but I also always had concerns or preoccupied thoughts somewhere in my mind. In the works I created, I placed static personified animals in the landscape. They are on the land, but are not interacting with it; they are present and their expressions are somewhat neutral, however they are not behaving like an animal and engaging with it by digging, running, calling to their pack, and so on. Wilderness areas are places that restore me and make me feel more complete, but because I am in a wild place, I am also reminded just how much I have forgotten how to be an animal, and how I long to be one.


Teal Francis was born and raised in central Oregon and attended Colorado College for her undergraduate degree, where she majored in studio art. After graduation in 2012, she lived in Seattle and worked as a print studio assistant at Pratt Fine Arts Center. Teal has backpacked through Europe, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand, lived in Alaska’s arctic, and worked on a farm in southwest Montana. She currently resides in Reno and is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Nevada, where she teaches introductory printmaking.

Teal specializes in relief and screen print, and is fascinated by how humans interact with the world and how it defines their quality of existence. In her prints, animals are introduced with elements not traditionally of their universe: man-made items, materialized shapes and patterns, and blank space. Through their interactions with these objects and other creatures, she questions our interpretations of encounters and represents the idea that our reactions are in fact learned behaviors. She is a firm believer that the world is a crazy magical place.