Artists on the Trail
Artists have long created art about the New England landscape, drawing inspiration from the natural beauty of the region through which the NET runs. The National Park Service hosts residency programs for artists in more than 50 parks around the country. In 2012, the New England Trail hosted their first Artist-In-Residence (AiR).
Over the course of their year in residence, each NET artist is encouraged to find inspiration and create art based on their exploration of the trail and the communities through which it travels. Through a series of events and projects, they share their work with and invite community members to engage with the trail in a new and unique way! Read below to learn about all of our Artists-in-Residence.
**We are not currently accepting applications for the NET Artist-In-Residence program. We hope to open applications for 2021 later this year. If you are an artist who is interested in learning more, please reach out through our contact page.
In 2019 we welcomed a new Artist -In-Residence to the New England Trail. Marisa Williamson joined us, leading a project along the trail called “Monuments to Escape.” Monuments to Escape is a public art project for which ten speculative and collaborative monuments will be visualized over the course of 2019 and 2020. Through her art installations, monuments and performances along the trail Marisa sought provide answers to the question “On the scenic trail, what stories are memorialized and what has been forgotten?” Marisa is a Newark, NJ-based multimedia artist who has created site specific works at and in collaboration with the University of Virginia, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Storm King Art Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For more info about her work and this project please visit Monuments to Escape or follow the links above.
Ben Cosgrove served as the New England Trail’s first ever composer-in-residence beginning September, 2017. He worked throughout the year to write and present new music about the landscape of Southern New England based on his experiences with the trail. Ben is a traveling composer, pianist and multi-instrumentalist who draws his inspiration from his interests in landscape, place and, ecology. His music has been described as “stunning, compelling and powerful.” For more about Ben and to listen to his music, check out BenCosgrove.com!
As the 2017- 18 artist in residence with the NET, Ben composed new music and gave performances along the trail. Please watch his newest video, Ben Cosgrove: Moving Through Landscapes // Music on the New England Trail. This video provides an introduction to his time working on the New England Trail.
If you are visiting the NET during the summer and fall of 2017, be sure to keep an eye out for the Scenic Kiosks created by William Van Beckum! He has positioned these kiosks at NET trailheads until October 2017. Drawing on the tradition of scenic imagery in the American conservation movement, Van Beckum’s installations aim to encourage tourism, recreation and conservation efforts. Van Beckum gathered images posted to Instagram by hikers and combined 20- 50 from each section, creating a visualized record of the communities involved with the trail. To participate, take a picture, upload it to instagram and tag it with #mynetrail
David K. Leff will serve as the New England Trail’s first poet in residence beginning October 15, 2016. Leff was selected for his extensive experience as a hiker, natural resource conservationist, and nature poet. Leff will be leading poetry-based hikes and conducting nature poetry writing workshops. He will also use his residency to probe the idea of “trailness” — the notion that connectivity is critical to human affairs and is also represented physically by a continuous footpath — through a series of Haibun, a marriage of prose and haiku. Check out David Leff’s Trail Poetry blog.
Artist profile video: Stories in Wind, Stone and Water: Poetry along the New England Trail
Xio (see-oh) is a nationally recognized artist, curator, writer, and speaker, and the newest addition to the NET Artists on the Trail! He has completed several commissions for the National Park Service, including African Burial Ground NM, Big Cypress NR, and Weir Farm NHS. He will be photographing the NET in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. “I’m excited by the challenge of working on my first national scenic trail,” said Xio, “and eager to learn about the New England Trail’s landscapes, natural and cultural history, the communities it touches, and the amazing volunteers who care for this treasure of a trail.” Keep an eye out for Xio and his camera on the NET, and email info@newenglandtrail for more information on the ongoing project.
Richardson-Zlogar Cabin in Northfield MA © 2015 Xiomaro.com
Artist profile video: Unseen Beauty: Photography by Xiomáro along the New England Trail
“A Sensory Walk on the New England Trail” In October 2015, artist Bibi Calderaro led a series of sensorial walks on the New England National Scenic Trail that explored the human connection with place through an in-depth walking experience. Bibi uses a unique approach to bring awareness to one’s surroundings and draw attention to the multiple ways one may connect with the land. Although aimed at enhancing the relationship between individuals and living landscapes, Bibi’s approach allows for a wide range of possibilities and insights from being truly present…more
“Walking, in and of itself, is a grounding experience…it is to understand, relate…it is to be fully alive.” –Bibi Calderaro, Artist
“Parks to People”, is a community art project developed by Carolina Aragon, in collaboration with Smith College Students and an after-school program in Holyoke. The project goal is to create artwork that inspires the public to visit the New England Trail. On May 1st at the Holyoke Public Library, “Parks to People” celebrated the unveiling of new bus sign and exhibition opening. Carolina Aragon has created environmentally-focused art installations all over the country.
During the months of September, October, and November 2013, the National Park Service, in cooperation with the Appalachian Mountain Club and Connecticut Forest & Park Association, presented TO BE AT THE FATHER EDGE: Photographs along the New England Trail/Barbara Bosworth, an exhibition of panoramic photographs taken along the trail over course of a year. The photographs were displayed at nine different sites – each with its own relationship to the trail – to form a unique exhibition that viewers can experience at their own pace and following their own path. The exhibition included a series of events ranging from hiking with the artist to lectures and discussions, all of which were enthusiastically attended. For more, check out the artist profile video.
In the summer of 2013 the Massachusetts Walking Tour thru-hiked the New England Trail in Massachusetts. With gear and instruments on their backs, they explored and celebrated the diverse landscape of the NET. Along the way, they performed free concerts at libraries, fields, farms and trail shelters, in support of bringing together NET trail communities through the arts. Take a listen to some of our favorite songs from the concerts on our youtube page.
NET hikers discovered something glowing on the trail in summer of 2012. The Hespera Stones, a temporary sculptural installation inscribed with poetry from Emily Dickinson’s “The Mountains Stood In Haze,” quietly greeted visitors as they explored the trail along the Mt. Holyoke Range in Skinner State Park in Hadley, MA. Artist – Christopher Frost – describes the look of the softly glowing stones as a combination of green technology and sculpture – the stones were cast with embedded LEDs and powered by solar panels hidden within the trees. The installation allowed for open-ended interpretation of the trail experience and the history of the surrounding communities through art. To learn more about this project, watch this interview with the artist.
The National Park Service’s Youth Ambassador Program (YAP) encourages young people to connect with the outdoors. The hip-hop group partnered with the NET in the fall of 2012 to compose a creative music video about their experience on the trail. Part of their 2015 “Centennial!” video for the National Park Service was also filmed on the NET. Click to view these hip-hop interpretations of the NET.