Artist-in-Residence Program

Painting of the northern lights over Isle Royale National Park.
Northern Lights, Oil, 55" x 19"

NPS / Jennifer Williams, Artist-in-Residence 1998


Isle Royale Program - How to Apply - How Do I Get to the Island? - Where Do I Stay? - Teen Artist Exploration - Online Exhibit

Artists in National Parks

Isle Royale's Artist-in-Residence program provides professional artists, working in all mediums, the opportunity to become part of a long-established tradition of artists in our national parks.

Artists have had a long-standing influence on the formation, expansion, and direction of America's national parks. By painting landscapes of the American West, artists publicized many of the natural wonders of a land little known to the eastern populace. Their body of work helped to stimulate the establishment of many of our parks and to foster a continuing appreciation of them.

Today's artists continue to document the landscapes of our national parks with contemporary approaches and techniques, drawing upon the site's scenic, natural, and cultural elements for inspiration. These artists translate the park's purpose, as a place of pleasure and preservation, into artwork that bring people new insights, enjoyment, and understanding.

The Dassler Cabin sits hidden amongst trees while its nearby smaller Guest House perches on the shoreline. Viewed from Scoville Point across a bay.
Where do artists stay? In the rustic Dassler Cabin on Scoville Point. The smaller Guest House can be seen perched on the shoreline.


The Isle Royale Program

Each summer, this program provides three to four artists a two to three week immersion in Isle Royale's wilderness environment. This immersion provides time for the artist to connect to the many moods that only a north woods wilderness can provide.

Visit our online gallery to see the pieces that our past Artists-in-Residence have created.

How Do I Get to the Park?

Complimentary transportation to the park is provided on the National Park Service vessel Ranger III, a 165-foot ship operating out of Houghton, Michigan. Artists are expected to arrive in Houghton the day before the ferry departs in order to acquire supplies, load materials and supplies aboard the Ranger III, and check over any last minute details with the Artist-in-Residence Coordinator.

Where Do I Stay?

The park offers the use of the rustic Dassler Cabin at a scheduled time from mid-June through early September. This cabin is on Scoville Point, about two miles by boat or trail from the park's major entrance point, Rock Harbor. The park also offers a canoe for the artist to use.

Isle Royale is a remote wilderness and all visitors must be well prepared. The artist should be self-sufficient, in good health, and expect cool temperatures, solitude, and simple facilities.

Program Requirements

  • Selected artists will be park volunteers.
  • Selected artists must donate a piece of artwork representative of their stay on Isle Royale to the park within one year of their experience. The donated piece will offer the public an opportunity to experience our national heritage through the artist's unique interpretation of Isle Royale.
  • Selected artists may present one public program with. The presentation will depend on the artists' medium, interests, experience, and the ability of rangers in Rock Harbor to asssist. Low-tech is better.

Program Sponsors


How to Apply

Application Open Period: January 2 - February 16

Each year, the application period is open January 2 through February 16. To be considered, all application materials must be received through the two step process by 11:59 pm EST on the closing date:

  1. Complete the online application.
  2. Email required submission materials.

Read through How to Apply completely to ensure all necessary application components have been received.

Program Selections

All applicants will be notified no later than May 1 whether selected for the upcoming summer program.


Become an Isle Royale Teen Artist

The Isle Royale Teen Artist Exploration is open to all aspiring teen artists who want to develop their art through experiencing wilderness. This program is open to all visual and performing artists, writers, and composers ages 13-18 at time of participation. Guidelines for submitting applications are typically updated in the fall and early winter of the previous year.

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Visit our Online Artist-in-Residence Exhibit

Last updated: October 18, 2023

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Contact Info

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800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931


906 482-0984

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