Samantha Metzner is just the second photographer chosen to create original works in the Southeast Utah Group of National Parks since the start of the local Community Artist in the Parks program, which began in 2009.
Metzner says that she has had her eye on applying to the program for a while.
“I’m really excited to create my own body of work specifically around the national parks, because that’s something that’s been on my list for a while,” Metzner said. “I think this program creates a really nice structure for it, and I’m really excited to explore creating art inspired by landscapes and seeing what I can do with that.”
Each year, a small committee chooses a local artist to spend at least 24 hours each week, from April 1 to October 31, creating art in the parks. Though artists specializing in any media are encouraged to apply, typically the program draws painters and illustrators. Logan Hansen, who did the program in 2012, was the first photographer.
The program is unpaid—artists must volunteer their time, but sell the works they create in park gift shops and in shops around Moab. The program began in 2009 as a “way to highlight the connection between local artists and the landscapes contained within the parks of the National Park Service’s Southeast Utah Group,” 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 that produces a cyan-blue print; and caffenol prints, a printing process using coffee, washing soda and vitamin C to develop black and white film. Her most recent work, “Desert Dreams,” created in 2020, is a collection of cyanotypes that resemble desert dreamscapes through their delicate collage work and painted borders. She also does portrait and landscape photography.
Metzner says that she grew up around photography—her mother was a photographer who built a darkroom in Metzner’s childhood home. She was always intrigued, but it wasn’t until she went to college that she saw the medium as a way of living. She graduated from Guilford College in North Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in photography. That’s where she discovered cyanotype printing, she said.
“I was able to create my own track and study that specifically, along with film photography,” she said. “So that’s what set me on that path. And I’ve been doing it ever since.”
She moved to Moab to work in wilderness therapy and quickly fell in love with the desert landscape and vibrant art community. Metzner creates art and teaches yoga at Desert Power Yoga and at the community yoga nights at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center.
“I was working outside and living outside, and it felt like a natural next move to start focusing on making art based on the landscapes here,” she said.
Metzner’s works of art, available as prints and cards, are on display currently at Moab Made (82 N. Main Street). She can be followed on Instagram @samantha.jade.art.