GSMNP volunteers receive lens cloth with special photograph

June 29, 2021

Phoenix art cloth and her camera

by Julie Dodd

Great Smoky Mountains National Park saluted the contributions of more than 300 park volunteers by presenting them with a lens cloth imprinted with artwork from one of the park’s Artists in Residence.

Phoenix and lens cloth with her photograph
Phoenix holds the lens cloth with her “Whiteout” photograph. The lens cloth was a special gift the park gave to 2020 park volunteers.

“Whiteout,” a photography taken by Phoenix during her residency, captures a sweep of clouds among the trees – a reminder of why the Cherokees who lived in the area called the mountains Shaconage, which translates to the “place of the blue smoke.”

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park proudly hosts thousands of individuals and groups each year. The voluntary service and stewardship of our park volunteers makes a world of difference. We wanted to thank each volunteer who dedicated their time during a long and challenging past year,” said Sheridan Roberts, Parkwide Volunteer Coordinator.

“We’re honored to have been able to share this special gift with 2020 Volunteers. It was possible only with the support of our wonderful Park Partner Group, Friends of the Smokies, who sponsors the Artist-In-Residence (AIR) Program, and 2019 Resident Artist Phoenix, whose creative vision is matched by her sense of camaraderie and generous spirit.”

Phoenix, who was an Artist in Residence during October and November 2019, said she was honored to have her photograph selected as the gift given to the volunteers for National Volunteers Week 2021.

The photograph at the top of the blog post is of the lens cloth and the camera Phoenix used in capturing “Whiteout” — a Nikon D750 with a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens.

Along with the cloth, the volunteers received her interpretative statement:

Whiteout - photograph taken by Phoenix at Morton's Overlook. 30x30 on metal
Whiteout – photograph taken by Phoenix at Morton’s Overlook, 30×30 on metal

Sometimes the weather forecasts get it right. It said that starting at noon on Friday a front would roll into the Great Smoky Mountains area. They predicted a 100 percent chance of rain for the next 36+ hours.

Like clockwork, the rain came. It started pouring just as I arrived at the top of Grotto Falls!

The rain continued for several days.

With this being the last weekend of my Artist Residency at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I decided to brave the constant rain and return that Sunday to a place I had visited often for sunrise and sunset. The camera, the tripod, and I all wore rain gear.

For an hour I watched and waited, as “smoke” slowly drifted lower and lower across the valley at Morton’s Overlook, to capture this decisive moment of clouds, mist and fog over the Smokies.

Phoenix, GRSM Artist-In-Resident


Friends of the Smokies supports the Artist-in-Residence Program.

Selected artists stay “in residence” in the park for 4-6 weeks – exploring the park, creating art, talking with rangers, meeting with other artists, and sharing their art in workshops and presentations.

Friends also helps support the Volunteers-in-Park (VIP) program.

You can support those programs through a donation to Friends of the Smokies.