The School of the Arts at the University of Nevada, Reno and the Great Basin National Park Foundation are excited to announce local Reno artist, Austin Pratt, as the inaugural artist-in-residence. Pratt will complete a three-week camping residency inside Great Basin National Park beginning Monday, July 12. The rugged and remote environment, along with dedicated time, will offer the artist a reprieve from typical daily life while providing inspiration for creative work.
“I was thrilled,” Pratt said on first learning his application was selected as this year’s artist-in-residence. “I feel a great privilege and responsibility to be a good first artist in residence.”
The artist will be provided with a campsite and all the necessary supplies to enjoy the trip to the park, which is located in eastern Nevada near the Utah border. He will be surrounded by the natural beauty of the park from the 13,063-foot summit of Wheeler Peak to the depths of Lehman Caves.
Pratt who earned his BFA in art from the University, is a drawer and painter and typically uses natural elements in his work. He enjoys being inspired by landscape environments. Fortunately, he is not a novice to camping and has visited Great Basin National Park before. However, this will be his longest and most extensive off-grid experience.
“I’m very interested and curious in what the duration will do for me and my work,” Pratt said.
He was thrilled at the idea of applying to the residency program to have an exclusive time period dedicated to developing his creativity and artwork. With many residency programs canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pratt jumped at the opportunity to apply for the Great Basin National Park experience.
The artist-in-residence will present at least one public program in the park during their residency which will be available to park visitors and the general public and will be interactive in nature. Upon completion of the residency, Pratt must agree to present or engage in one public outreach program in the community to share Great Basin National Park and the residency program with audiences beyond the park’s borders. He will also donate to the Great Basin National Park Foundation an original piece of artwork created during the residency.
Pratt said he has some ideas what this programming might look like, but he won’t know for sure until he gets to the park and immerses in the experience. He plans to engage with park staff, soaking up knowledge about the flora and fauna and learning from researchers about the astronomy in the area.
Pratt also recently discovered there is a team of biologists in the park now and he hopes to tag along and watch them work. This “knowledge-gathering” as he referred to it, will help engross him in the field and inspire his artwork.
Pratt plans to draw and paint while in the park at his campsite or from his mobile studio he can set up while on a hike. He also plans to try plein air painting, which is painting outdoors from observation of the landscape.
He is most looking forward to the new direction his artwork could take.
“My work takes from the color palette and textures of the landscape and the relationship and distribution of how bushes grow and rocks tumble,” Pratt said. “There will be plenty of inspiration.”