“Being on the Chilkoot is always a highlight as it is in constant change and an extremely diverse landscape. There are always new clouds, winds, sunny days, and fresh breezes that travel through the land and create constant motion” (Heather Bell Callaghan, 2015).
Together, the Yukon Arts Centre, Parks Canada and the US National Park Service are seeking three visual artists – one from Canada, one from the United States and one regional (Yukon or Alaskan residents) to participate in a cross-border creative journey within Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, Alaska and Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site in British Columbia. The partner organizations are thrilled to offer this one-of-a-kind residency once again in 2016, its sixth consecutive season.
“The entire experience was just phenomenal and not something I would have been able to do under any other circumstances” (Michelle Lattimer, 2015).
Selected artists will follow the infamous Chilkoot Trail, once trod by Tlingit First Nation traders and Klondike Gold Rush stampeders, for two weeks. Average hikers take four to five days to complete the trek, whereas with support from Trail staff and from a friend or family member of their choice, artists are able to take time to interact with hikers, make art, and soak in the natural and historic beauty of the Trail.
“We were welcomed in Canada at the pass warden cabin, and from there on, the hospitality only increased” (Andreas Rutkauskas, 2014).
The residency program holds a joint goal for the US National Park Service and Parks Canada: to increase public awareness of the Chilkoot Trail, particularly in major cities. By creating art during and after the hike, and by leading workshops and/or art talks on the trail and in nearby communities, artists inspire Canadians and Americans to appreciate the legacy of the Chilkoot Trail.
“The people that I met along the way and the people that work on the trail were especially a highlight. I was not expecting such a social hiking experience, which was great, because my project really relied on engaging people in conversation” (Steve Snell, 2014).
For the Yukon Arts Centre, the residencies are a way of fostering the Yukon’s creative and cultural economy by developing ties with tourism, bringing new and broader audiences into contact with contemporary artists; providing a stimulating working experience for artists; and encouraging art making that explores and even challenges ideas and issues in landscape art.