An artist in residence at Denali National Park next month is bringing her multi-year project here with her, and looking for volunteers who will let her paint their portraits.
Brenda Zlamany is based in New York City. She’s also a Fulbright Scholar and this latest installment of her multi-year project is painting watercolor portraits for the theme “Climate in America.” The overall project is known as The Itinerant Portraitist.
She plans to paint portraits on Aug. 2-5 in Utqiagvik, Aug. 5 in Fairbanks and then at Denali National Park during her 10-day artist-in-residence period beginning Aug. 6. Beginning Aug. 16, she will also be the artist in residence at McKinley Chalet Resort, down at Denali Square. Portrait sessions will be held there until Aug. 23.
The Itinerant Portraitist began in 2011. Zlamany travels the world to explore the positive effects of painted portraiture. She captures not only the portrait, but the story that goes with it.
“I paint what I hear as much as what I see,” she said.
Painting a portrait is an intimate experience. She finds that during the process of painting portraits, her subjects are more candid and reflective than they might be otherwise.
For past versions of the project, she has painted the Aboriginal population in Taiwan, girls in an orphanage in the United Arab Emirates, taxicab drivers in Cuba, artists in Brooklyn, New York, and disabled residents in a nursing home in the Bronx.
For this chapter, she is interested in the effects of climate change on the daily life of Alaskans. She seeks a variety of portrait subjects including whalers, anglers, hunters, artists, park rangers, bus drivers, dog trainers, visitor center employees, teachers, scientists, firefighters, students, tourism workers, construction workers and anyone else who calls Alaska home.
Her “Climate In America” chapter focuses on these locations: Key West, Florida; Sonoma County, California; Denali National Park and Utqiagvik; and Glacier National Park, Montana.
“Alaska is a place of overwhelming natural beauty, with bears larger than bison, parks the size of nations and glaciers bigger than many U.S. states,” she said. “Yet the Arctic sea ice is retreating, shores are eroding, glaciers are shrinking, permafrost is thawing and insect outbreaks and wildfires are becoming more common.
“It is the ideal location for this chapter of The Itinerant Portraitist,” she added.
She’s hoping local communities will help her choose subjects and work sites, from national parks to libraries, schools or workplaces.
Each day, she will invite four to six people to sit for watercolor portraits using the camera lucida. This is a light, portable optical device used as a drawing aid. It has been used by artists since the Renaissance. Conversations between the artist and subject will be filmed or audio-recorded as part of the project.
Each portrait takes about 40 minutes. Volunteers must pose for a photograph with their individual portrait painting. Then, they will receive a free print of their photo, signed by the artist.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at email@example.com. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.