Every year the South Carolina State Parks Service hosts the Artist-In-Residence program. This program provides artists with the opportunity to gain inspiration from the natural and cultural resources of the South Carolina State Parks. In return for a week-long stay at a state park cabin, each artist produces an original piece of artwork that is presented to the park. This competitive program attracts outstanding artists from all over the state and beyond. Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of meeting the 2021 Artists. Here is how their year went.  

For more information about the program, visit our Artist-in-Residence page.

Esther and Michael Gambrell - Little Pee Dee State Park

Esther and Michael Gambrell are a married photography duo who spent their residency in the camper cabin at Little Pee Dee State Park with their children. According to Esther, they love astrophotography and the lake at the park was the perfect setting to capture the Milky Way and some star trails. While at Little Pee Dee, the Gambrell family loved seeing tree frogs, canoeing on the lake, enjoying the playground, and roasting s'mores around the campfire. Esther said that “Little Pee Dee was a great place for our family to make these memories.”

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Lauren Garner - Santee State Park 

As an Ultimate Outsider, Lauren Garner has visited Santee State Park before, but through her time as an Artist in Residence was able to immerse herself in the park. During her stay, Lauren enjoyed viewing wildlife, exploring trails, and checking out the local community. She was inspired by the sunsets at Santee, and that was what influenced her to choose a sunset photo to present to the park. “My favorite part of my stay was watching the sun sparkle through the trees and moss as it set over Lake Marion in the evenings, turning the sky beautiful shades of orange, pink, yellow, blue, and purple,” she said. In addition to sunsets, Lauren saw plenty of wildlife, such as deer, turtles, armadillos, birds, and even a large alligator at nearby Santee National Wildlife Refuge. Through her photos and experience, Lauren hopes to help bring recognition to South Carolina State Parks and their amenities, history, and activities.

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Patrick Krohn - Hickory Knob State Resort Park  

Hickory Knob had Patrick Krohn as their Artist in Residence this past spring. Patrick was excited to photograph the blooming flowers. From his first evening there, he was out exploring the park dawn to dusk and taking breaks to edit his photos. The park proved to be dynamic with a variety of weather and subject matter, allowing Patrick to discover new ways to look at a scene. “The greatest thing I got out of the week, was the time to concentrate on just photography and play around with the many ways to look at a scene. Sometimes I took in the whole view of a scene, and sometimes I moved in very close to the details. Sometimes I worked in color, and sometimes I used black and white. Sometimes I photographed things just as they were, and sometimes I played with my camera settings to get more of an abstract look,” he said. Patrick had such a fun and productive week, he decided to present the park with two photos, held below by Assistant Manager, Jay Reese. 


Eric Lake - Lake Hartwell State Park  

Eric Lake enjoyed his time as an Artist in Residence at Lake Hartwell State Park with his wife. During his stay, he was able to paint a few scenes around the park. Eric decided to paint the lake from an aerial viewpoint as his piece to present to the park for display. “Painting nature can be challenging as it is always changing, but it can also lead to discovery and appreciation,’ he said.  

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Sarah Mandell - Cheraw State Park  

Sarah Mandell spent a week at Cheraw State Park where she created about 15 fiber art pieces and some jewelry. She took many photos and even created a video. The final piece she presented to Cheraw was a pink sunset sky landscape and beach fiber art piece, shown below. Sarah noted that this was her favorite spot in the park and planned her day around enjoying the sunset each evening. She began her piece by taking reference photos and then later working on the needle felting, “I loved how the pink clouds reflected on the calm water of the lake and enjoyed using wool fiber to represent the scene,” she said.  

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Beth Melton Seabrook - Edisto Beach State Park 

Beth Melton Seabrook was an Artist in Residence at Edisto Beach State Park. Beth portrays conventional local images upon the unconventional surfaces of salvaged and repurposed materials. She began her stay by visiting the ranger station and interpretive center to collect paper materials that she could incorporate into her mixed media piece.  

Beth was inspired by the coastal and creek views. “I especially enjoyed the view from the rocking chair in the backyard of my creek-side cabin every morning for sunrise. Each evening I would venture to the dock for the amazing sunset,” she said.  

 Beth also created a few other pieces made from mixed media and acrylic of the views from her stay. The image she presented to park staff was the view of the new dock at the park cabins. Overall, she says her stay was very enjoyable and productive. 

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Stacy Morgan - Poinsett State Park  

Stacy Morgan is a potter and painter who used her skills to create a unique platter for Poinsett State Park. She took her bicycle and enjoyed riding the trails and was inspired by the local scenery. “I tried to incorporate the earthy feel of the park, the running streams in the small falls, and the rolling trails in my piece,” she said. Stacy used a dark brown clay with a white antique glaze before carving the piece so that the brown showed through. “I kept the surface glaze matte and rough to reflect the bark on the trees. The trails were so thoughtfully named, so I carved the names around the rim of the platter,” she said. Stacy noted that Poinsett was so quiet and that it felt like the mountains of the midlands. 

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Dave Schuppert - Dreher Island State Park  

Dave Schuppert spent a week at Dreher Island State Park in May. Dave had the unique opportunity to bring his boat to explore the island by water on beautiful Lake Murray. He began cruising around the island in search of wildlife along the shoreline and recording various birds and animals. Dave was intrigued by the large number of blue herons and used that as his inspiration for his painting. He presented his painting to park staff in June. Dave said that he “thoroughly enjoyed himself and hoped to have other opportunities to explore and capture the beauty of our state parks.”  




Francis Sills - Oconee State Park  

Francis Sills spent his residency at Oconee State Park in June. He began familiarizing himself with the park by walking the trails and doing small sketches. Francis spent most of his stay focusing on landscapes and painting en plein air, then sketching in his cabin in the evenings. He was inspired by fallen trees and vegetation around the lake. He noted that around dusk every day, a beaver would come out to collect branches and sticks near the cabin. Francis said that he “felt like we were both busy working all day and building something, each in our own way.”  

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Georgia Walters - Edisto Beach State Park 

Georgia Walters spent her residency at Edisto Beach State Park in April. As a nature photographer, Georgia is always looking at the ways natures beauty and wildlife coexist. She said she enjoyed “being able to photograph a nesting plover and a very young raccoon that were the glory creatures Mother Nature blessed me with during this stay.” Georgia presented a print of a raccoon on acrylic to the park.  

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Meg Winnecour - Poinsett State Park 

Meg Winnecour had her residency in December at Poinsett State Park. It was dark when she arrived, but she woke up to birdsong and sunrise. The cheerful pink door of the cabin gave her a sense of freedom. Meg primed and sanded her panels then went for a hike on the Whippoorwill trail. Meg spent her time exploring, writing, and painting. The following is an excerpt from her poem: 

A trail to the left catches my eye,  
and I step onto it, following the spirits’ voices  
singing Yes despite the darkening, coldening night 
and cross a plank bridge over a silent creek snaking its way  
through patches of grass, sand islands, the water black  
against the taupe and tan, though really it’s clear  
as winter’s midnight, glossy in the dusk,  
the shining eyes of Earth itself. 

“I wanted to capture the feeling of being one with that place, of being part of it, unfamiliar as it was,” she said. Meg presented a painting of her cabin and says that her week at Poinsett was tinged in magic. She expressed her gratitude for the gift of time, solitude, and silence during her stay in the cabin with the pink door and the ability to reconnect with herself and divinity.  


Jeni Zapor - Little Pee Dee State Park 

Jeni Zapor’s inspiration for art is nature, and more specifically birds. During her stay in the camper cabin at Little Pee Dee, Jeni enjoyed being constantly surrounded by birds and even watching a Northern parula leave the nest. Jeni enjoyed her stay with her husband by relaxing and kayaking and says, “The experience was invaluable on so many levels.” 

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