The Artist in Residence (AIR) program offers professional artists of the Austin area an inspirational environment in which to pursue various mediums and to further creative development in a natural setting. Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is a uniquely situated urban natural area reflecting the personality of Austin — at once wild and modern, natural and technologically advanced, protected and developing.

Wild Basin hosts two artists per year: in spring and in fall. Artists of all disciplines in the greater Austin area are encouraged to apply. Artists are provided a small budget for materials, supplies, and equipment, and given access to the Wild Basin Creative Research Center and the trail system for inspiration.

Spring 2024 Artist in Residence

Sonya Berg is a visual artist based in Austin, TX. Born in Raleigh, NC and raised in suburban Philadelphia, Sonya received her MFA in painting from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010 and her BA in Studio Art from Messiah College, PA in 2005. Her current work explores the relational weight of the portrait through painting and photographic techniques, by transforming the ordinary and casual to vulnerable and elevated.

Sonya explores the layered tension of human’s interaction with nature and how the natural world infiltrates our inner landscape. Through painting and photography techniques that utilize steps of removal, Sonya considers various ways we attempt to control or care for the wilderness around us. Through repeated documentation of a potted plant, observing a vista through plein-air painting, or studying a face in a laborious portrait, the resulting work is an invitation to consider the ways we process our own presence in nature, and how removed we may be as we do so.

Sonya will present public programs focused on the individual visitor’s interaction with their environment and with each other through observational drawing and photography. By highlighting the individual's contributions through portraiture and personal narrative, she hopes to consider the relational aspects of caring for nature, and our personal responsibilities of conservation.

Sonya’s work has been exhibited at numerous venues including ICOSA Collective in Austin and The Contemporary in Dayton, Ohio. Sonya has held residencies at Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, CA and Vermont Studio Center in Johnson VT. She currently teaches in the Visual Arts Department at St. Edward’s University. View more of her work at

The hope of this residency is that visitors connect with Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve in a new way that deepens their appreciation of art and nature.  Sign up for our newsletter on the homepage to be informed of the upcoming children and adult workshops!

Sonya Berg at Wild Basin Creative Research Center

The Wild Basin Artist in Residence will:

  • Donate a piece created during or inspired by their residency to the Wild Basin permanent collection
  • Present two workshops during the residency: one for adults and one for school-age children
  • Work on premises at least one day per week
  • Exhibit works created during the residency at the Wild Basin Visitor Center
  • Be willing to be filmed, photographed or interviewed for Wild Basin promotional purposes
  • Comply with all policies of Wild Basin while in residence.
Nature art workshop

Application Information

Spring 2025/Fall 2025 Artist in Residence application deadline October 31, 2024 - The 2025 Application is available NOW.   

Application Process

Submit application materials by email to the Environmental Education Coordinator for consideration by the selection committee. The application must include a brief statement with goals for the residency, the preferred residency period, a resume, digital samples of work, and the signed application form. The award will be made based on merit and on an understanding of the mission of Wild Basin. Selections will be made without regard to race, religion, sex, disability, marital status, age or national origin. The deadline for Spring and Fall 2025 applications is October 31, 2024. Awards will be announced one month before the start of residency.  Application will be available July 2023.

Current Artist in Residence

Spring 2024 - Sonya Berg is a visual artist based in Austin, TX. Born in Raleigh, NC and raised in suburban Philadelphia, Sonya received her MFA in painting from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010 and her BA in Studio Art from Messiah College, PA in 2005. Her current work explores the relational weight of the portrait through painting and photographic techniques, by transforming the ordinary and casual to vulnerable and elevated.

Past Artists in Residence

Fall 2023.  Thomas Cook is an oil painter based in Austin TX. Born in Baltimore MD, he studied painting at Savannah College of Art and Design. Working primarily in oil painting, graphite powder and screen printing, his work draws heavily on the landscapes surrounding him and that of his travels.

Spring 2023.   Leila Ali is a Colombian-born visual artist based in Austin. Her work moves between modes of production that employ photography, collage, painting, and drawing. Her most recent project uses botanical art and landscape photography as a lens to reflect on common wild plants that are often overlooked and neglected, a phenomenon that has been described as "plant blindness". Leila's practice aims to invite the public to look closely and appreciate the rich botanical environment, which can sometimes be invisible and taken for granted.

Fall 2022. Ania Safko. Ania is a Ukrainian-American visual artist working in film, poetry, and photography, and a '21 graduate from the UT Austin MFA Studio Art program. Her artistic practice deals with the human impact on the landscape of the American West and the changing nature of Americans' relationship with wilderness.

Spring 2022. Juliet Whitsett. Juliet is an Art Educator with a Master’s Degree in Community-Based Arts Education from the University of Texas-Austin and Undergraduate in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has designed arts and environmental education programs for public institutions such as the High Line, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Thinkery, Austin Discovery School and private organizations domestically and internationally.

Fall 2021 - Danika Ostrowski. Ostrowski is based in Austin and is a dedicated advocate for the preservation of public lands. She paints both en-plein-air and creates in-studio work based on photographs, sketches and memories. Ostrowski began painting on the porch at Wild Basin every Friday morning until Wild Basin closed due to COVID-19 in March 2020. She restarted her residency and served as Wild Basin's Fall 2021 Artist in Residence.

Fall 2019 – Precious Parker. As a visual artist, storyteller and photographer, Parker explores "the relational connection between subjects and space with subtle elements of emotion". During her residency at Wild Basin, Parker examined how humans and nature live in tandem and hopes her artwork will encourage people to reflect on their connection to nature and the spaces they occupy. In November 2019, Parker guided 14 children and adults in the technique of cyanotype nature printing.

Spring 2019 – Bethany Johnson. Johnson is based in Austin and her art explores the intersection between art and science: between the poetic experience of nature and the more objective study thereof. She works mostly in the medium of drawing, intermingling the aesthetic approaches and media associated with landscape art traditions with data-oriented, informational components, such as seismic imaging, geologic surveys, and others.

Fall 2018 – Jaime McCormick. McCormick’s work highlights the connection between people and the environment primarily using acrylic, gouache, and collage techniques.  Passionate about conservation and preservation, McCormick hopes to create art that connects visitors to Wild Basin and sparks exploration of our natural spaces. 

Fall 2017/Spring 2018 – Heidi Miller Lowell.  Lowell has over 9 years of experience as an art teacher and a keen appreciation for nature from her childhood in Colorado.  Using 3D modeling and watercolors, the artist aims to celebrate the flora and fauna at Wild Basin, bringing attention to the importance of caring for our wild spaces.

Spring 2017 – Andrea Wolf.  Wolf’s work focuses on contemporary portraits of regional wildlife. The artist painted at the preserve weekly and conducting two events open to the public at the Wild Basin Creative Research Center during her time with us. An event geared to an adult audience explored the influence of local wildlife with a painting demonstration. A second event for children focused on incorporating nature in art.