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Big Bend National Park Announces Texas Artist as 2015 Artist in Residence

Terlingua, TX, October 29, 2015 --( Big Bend National Park, in cooperation with the non-profit National Parks Arts Foundation (NPAF) and the Big Bend Natural History Association, announced today that Dawn Waters Baker, a painter from Dallas, Texas, will be the park’s November, 2015, Artist in Residence.

Dawn Waters Baker was born and raised in the Philippines as an expatriate, and only came to the United States when she was 18. This formative experience of witnessing poverty and grace has given her, in her artist’s path, a determined and searching viewpoint that does not take things for granted. Though represented at galleries in Dallas, New York, Scottsdale, and Tulsa, she takes pride in her volunteer work at ALERT, a non-profit where she coaches at-risk and trafficked girls to use art to express themselves. As well as working on new work while she is at the park, Dawn is looking forward to making a presentation or leading some painting workshops for the public during her time at the park.

For the most part, Dawn paints her landscapes in oils, painstakingly building up layers, but not merely for decorative or beautiful effects, but more as a window into more intangible things. She sees the landscapes that make up the largest portion of her work not merely as useful “subjects” but as a passage into something greater than the human perspective. Explains Waters Baker: “I am trying to hit at something of the sublime which is the mixture of nature's great beauty but also its danger and encompassing presence when you’re in it. The metaphors of life held in branches, cloud wisps and water.”

Dawn will use the November 2015 residency to create artwork inspired by the vast and wild Chihuahuan desert landscapes of Big Bend. She shares with many artists of the past, like William Turner and Paul Cézanne, her insight into the active ever-present mystery of nature. “What better way to listen to the world instead of simply moving from point A to point B with constant distractions that are the way of life in the city. I feel by being at the park I will have a chance to be overwhelmed. To not simply see nature as something to traverse, capture, or keep as a screen saver but to touch and feel the sublime. There is an awe and respect that comes with being in a place that is wild and alive and deeply beautiful. I want the opportunity to be 'schooled' by such a place.”

The Park Service is very excited to host a locally based artist this year. As the park’s superintendent, Cindy Ott-Jones, explains, “As the National Park Service approaches our Centennial year, we look forward to serving park visitors, while remembering our heritage of service. Big Bend National Park can offer the perfect backdrop to provide inspiration for Artist in Residence Dawn Waters Baker, and for her skills in painting grand landscapes on oils.”

Programs like Big Bend’s artist in residence add value to the park experience for visitors, now and in the future, and represent the highest aspirations of the Park Service’s goals for the next century.

Big Bend National Park, founded in 1944, is a United States National Park located in the U.S. State of Texas on the United States-Mexico border at the most dramatic meanders of the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande. The park covers over 800,000 acres and comprises river canyons, Chihuahuan desert vistas, old mine buildings and other structures, and stunning rock formations and varied, multicolored geology. The park is also a world biosphere reserve and is one of the few national parks in the country obtaining the Gold Tier certification for Dark Night Skies. Last year’s Artist-in-Residence, Pulitzer nominated playwright, screenwriter, and photographer Howard Korder (Boys Life, Boardwalk Empire) used the park’s unique space-time and the solitude afforded by the residency to multitask, taking photographs and developing ideas for a television series.

NPAF is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the promotion of the National Parks of the U.S. through creating dynamic opportunities for artworks that are based in our natural and historic heritage. This project is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Big Bend Natural History Association, and other generous benefactors. All NPAF programs are made possible through the philanthropic support of donors of all sorts ranging from corporate sponsors, small businesses, and art patrons and citizen-lovers of the parks. NPAF is always seeking new partners and donors for its wide-ranging artist-in-residence programs.
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National Parks Arts Foundation
Cecilia Wainright

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