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The Chugach National Forest is pleased to announce the selection of the 2019 Voices of the Wilderness Artist in Residence. The Voices of the Wilderness Artist in Residence is a unique opportunity where the artist stays at a remote wilderness cabin and is paired with a wilderness ranger on the Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area. This year’s selection is Valisa Higman from Seldovia, Alaska. Higman has a BA in Psychology with a Minor in Art, Magna Cum Laude, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon. As this year’s artist in residence, Higman will travel alongside a wilderness ranger, assist with some basic ranger duties and actively engage in stewardship projects, campsite inventorying, resource monitoring, rehabilitation projects, and public education.

“The idea of the program is to give artists a sense of the stewardship behind America’s public lands, fostering an artistic exploration of these natural and cultural treasures,” says Barbara Lydon, Wilderness Ranger and Voices of the Wilderness Artist in Residence Program Coordinator. “The hoped-for result is artwork that communicates something of the meaning of these important public lands.”

As an artist-in-residence, Higman will experience the wilderness like few others. Emphasis will be placed on her artist skills and experiencing the wilderness and exploring how to communicate its inspirational qualities through her artwork. Her residency will begin on the Chugach National Forest in Prince William Sound on June 3rd. She will board the Philips Marine boats for day trips to both Harriman Fiord and Blackstone Bay. Later in June, Higman will join the Chugach Children’s Forest Teacher’s Expedition trip in Derickson Bay. Afterwards, she will join cabin crew members at Harrison Lagoon for a few days.

“I am super excited for this opportunity to explore a new part of our great state. My artwork is always influenced by my environment, and this gives me a chance to become acquainted with the things that make Prince William Sound unique and special,” says Higman. “I love seeing how plants, animals, geology and weather all interact with each other, and how people respond to the ecology of a place.”

Higman’s artwork is inspired by a deep connection to both her natural surroundings and her community. She has always enjoyed playing with knives and scissors, and grew up watching her mom hand cut silk-screens and her dad carve intricate images in wood. Seeing the possibilities, she combined her background in drawing and her love of bold saturated colors with the medium of cut-paper. Starting with a single sheet of black paper, Higman carves the background using an Xacto knife, and her images are revealed in an intricate lacework of lines. Using the black as her foreground, she fills the negative space by piecing together layers of paper in vibrant colors and textures. As a finishing touch, she adds the last details and shading with watercolor and other paints.

The Voices of the Wilderness Artist Residency is a unique opportunity for artists of all mediums to experience Alaskan wilderness while traveling alongside a wilderness specialist. Artist opportunities are offered on national forests, parks and refuges across Alaska, and each residency is completely different. This is the tenth year of this unique program hosting nearly 85 artists, ranging from painters to performance artists to writers. Each artist uses his or her creative mediums to be a voice for wild public lands. For more information about the program visit Voices of the Wilderness Artist in Residence.