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Artist in Residence


Come meet the 2021 “Artist in Residence” for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge!

Beginning today, Rachel Pierce will kick off a series of free biweekly, plein-air art demonstrations and monthly Friday Art Journal Walks that she will host throughout the season.

Most well-recognized from her role as former local morning anchor for NBC2 for five years, Rachel recently retired from TV journalism to devote more time to her passion for art and to her husband and four children.

“I love all things ‘Ding!’” said the artist, who in March 2020 emceed Project Refuge: A Couture Fashion Show Using Trash for the refuge’s 75th Anniversary. “I am always in awe of the wildlife, especially the birds, during my visits. I often find my inspiration while there. How fitting and what an exceptional honor to be the artist in residence at the place where I source so many subjects for my artwork.”

Through April 2021, Rachel will be doing her popup demonstrations along Wildlife Drive the first and third Tuesdays and Thursdays of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to stop and chat with the artist, in a safe and distanced manner, while watching her create her brand of whimsical, impressionistic art inspired by sea- and bird-life.

The dates for her Friday Art Journal Walks are Jan. 8, Feb. 5, March 5, and April 2. Participation is limited to the first 10 people to arrive at the Visitor & Education Center flagpole by 10 a.m. Free journals and pencils are included in the nature-walk art lessons.

Rachel’s artist-in-residence program will culminate in an end-of-the-year exhibition of her refuge-inspired and other wildlife art in the Visitor & Education Center Auditorium from Oct. 1 through Nov. 10, 2021.

A lifelong artist, Rachel studied art in college, but eventually segued into broadcast journalism. She moved to Fort Myers in 2015 and became involved in community affairs as an emcee and celebrity artist for events. The latter once more ignited her love for creating colorful, nature-inspired oil and acrylic paintings.  She sells her paintings and line of jewelry throughout Southwest Florida and on her website byrachelpierce.com.

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