Artist in Residence; A Reflection


Artist in Residence; A Reflection

Written by Janet Stuart
Photos by Janet Stuart, Carey Goss (MNWR), and Janelle Wicks (FOMR)

For two enriching weeks, I had the privilege of serving as the Friends of Malheur NWR 2024 Artist in Residence, teaching the eager children of Harney County how to create art that celebrated birds. Student artwork will be displayed in town during the annual Bird Festival.

Carey Goss, Wildlife Specialist for Malheur NWR, and I teamed up to teach elementary students at Slater Elementary and at each of the rural schools across Harney County. These schools can span 100s of miles from Seneca in the north to Fields in the south with some outpost schools serving as few as four children.

The arrival of migrating birds such as sandhill cranes, snow geese and pintail ducks served as inspiration for Carey, who reminded the students that the refuge provides critical habitat for much needed rest, food and shelter.  

I taught the students how to work from direct observation using a photo of their chosen bird. They learned new techniques using artist’s pastels- how to layer and blend the colors. One of the highlights for me was observing the students’ creativity flourish as they translated the beauty of birds onto paper. From simple sketches to more intricate drawings, each piece reflected their individual styles and newfound abilities. We were lucky to have local volunteers and fellow artists Tori Schmidt and Doug Furr join us in the classroom for support.  We were all amazed at the quality of the students’ artwork.

In conclusion, my time as an artist in residence in Harney County was both fulfilling and inspiring. This unique opportunity not only allowed me to share my passion for art but also to be truly immersed in the beauty and wildness of Harney County. I had the privilege of nurturing creativity, building connections, and leaving a positive impact on the community. It reaffirmed the importance of the Artist in Residence program and how it enriches lives. The Artist in Residence Program is also a testament to the Friends of Malheur NWR and Malheur Refuge’s commitment to fostering creativity and helping to develop in children a greater appreciation for the natural world around them. 

LISTEN: Carey Goss and Janet Stuart on Harney County LIVE Radio Show

NOTE from FOMR: This program reaches approximately 700 children throughout Harney County. Friends of Malheur contract for services with an Artist and purchase all of the art materials used. The Refuge provides housing and transportation for the Artist. Annually, this program in addition to the Youth Art Contest costs approximately $3,500. 


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