South Florida is home to the only subtropical wilderness area in the country, and AIRIE is the only program bringing artists to the Everglades. AIRIE’s purpose is to inform, connect, and support artists, writers and musicians who wish to be ambassadors for the Everglades by providing month-long residencies in the Park.
AIRIE was born in 2001 when the $8 billion Everglades restoration bill had been passed by the U. S. Congress. Painter and former arts administrator Donna Marxer thought it would be a good idea for artists and writers to become a part of this new interest in one of the most compelling and environmentally endangered parts of our nation. With the full cooperation of Everglades National Park, she started a program by which qualified professionals in arts and letters could reside in the Park for a month and create unimpeded in the wilderness setting.
AIRIE residents supply their own transportation and food. They are treated as treasured Volunteers In the Park (VIPs) by an enthusiastic staff and visitors to the Park where they offer events in the form of exhibitions, lectures or workshops. Each visual artist donates a work inspired by their residency for the Park collection, and writers and composers offer some publication rights to the Park.
The program has been a success. Today, there are over 90 AIRIE Fellows who have produced an outstanding body of work, and inspired visitors and Park staff alike. With proposed projects like traveling exhibitions, publication in the form of books, film and video and ideas yet to come, AIRIE brings attention to this unique national treasure.
“In a park known for its spectacular and diverse wildlife, the art and voices of AIRIE artists reveal other unique, and often missed, dimensions of this special place,” remarks Park Superintendent Dan Kimball.