Samantha Metzner is only the second photographer chosen to create original work in the Southeastern Utah National Parks group since the start of the local Community Artist in Parks program, which began in 2009.
Metzner says she has been meaning to apply to the program for some time.
âI’m really excited to be creating my own body of work specifically around national parks, because it’s something that has been on my list for quite some time,â Metzner said. “I think this program creates a really nice structure for it, and I’m really excited to explore creating landscape inspired art and see what I can do with it.”
Each year, a small committee chooses a local artist to spend at least 24 hours a week, from April 1 to October 31, creating art in the parks. Although artists specializing in all media are encouraged to apply, generally the program attracts painters and illustrators. Logan Hansen, who made the program in 2012, was the first photographer.
The program is unpaid: artists must volunteer their time, but sell the works they create in the park’s gift shops and in stores around Moab. The program began in 2009 as a “way to highlight the connection between local artists and the landscapes contained in the parks of the Southeastern Utah group of the National Park Service,” according to the NPS. A few past artists include Julia Buckwalter, Samantha Zim, and Antonio Savarese. Metzner will start in April 2022.
Metzner specializes in alternative printing processes such as cyanotypes, a darkroom printing process using ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide which produces a cyan-blue print; and coffee prints, a printing process using coffee, baking soda and vitamin C to develop a black and white film. His most recent work, âDesert Dreamsâ, premiered in 2020, is a collection of cyanotypes that resemble dreamy desert landscapes through their delicate collage work and painted borders. She also does portrait and landscape photography.
Metzner says she grew up around photography – her mother was a photographer who built a darkroom in Metzner’s childhood home. She has always been intrigued, but it wasn’t until she went to college that she saw the medium as a way of life. She graduated from Guilford College in North Carolina with a BA in Photography. It was there that she discovered the cyanotype print, she says.
âI was able to create my own track and study that specifically, with film photography,â she said. âSo that’s what put me on this path. And I have been doing it ever since.
She moved to Moab to work in wilderness therapy and quickly fell in love with the desert landscape and the vibrant arts community. Metzner creates art and teaches yoga at Desert Power Yoga and community yoga nights at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center.
âI was working outside and living outside, and it just felt natural to start focusing on creating art based on the landscapes here,â she said.
Metzner’s works of art, available as prints and cards, are currently on display at Moab Made (82 N. Main Street). She can be followed on Instagram @ samantha.jade.art.