For the second year, portrait and fine art photographers James and Jenny Tarpley of Marion were selected as “Artists-in-Residence” at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

The Tarpleys, who operate VISIO photography and jt-FINEart, were invited back as the 2016 “Artists-in-Residence” at the national monument in the high deserts of southern Utah for a special collaborative effort with two other artists, according to a news release.

This was in conjunction with the 20th anniversary celebration of the national monument. The Tarpleys led the team that was selected, collaborating with a writer and a musician. They worked toward making a video that would encompass the art, feel, and beauty of the natural wonder with conservation efforts in mind that will be displayed in the five visitor centers around the national monument, reads the news release.

The Grant Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a vast landscape of more than 1.9 million acres so traveling through the interior can be a bit challenging, even with a four-wheel drive.

“With such a large area, the topography, plant life, animal life, and even the weather is dramatically different from spot to spot,” reads the news release. “They wanted to display not only the vastness, but also the diversity in this high desert region. In the north of the Monument, green trees, grasslands, and waterfalls can be seen along with arches and colored stone. In the south, it is more arid so prominent features include sand, red rock formations, and more of a stereotypical ‘desert-looking’ landscape.”

President Clinton designated the area as a national monument in 1996 using his authority under the Antiquities Act. Grand Staircase-Escalante encompasses the largest land area of all U.S. national monuments, according to online sources.

To supplement the costs incurred with this Artist-in-Residence program, James and Jenny Tarpley approached the McDowell Arts Council Association (MACA) for help.

“They were excited to be awarded the Regional Artist Project Grant (RAPG),” reads the news release. “This grant enabled them to travel to Utah and have funds for day-to-day living and transportation over the three-week project. Also, funds were used for printing and displaying the images for a festival in Southern Utah and in visitor centers around the Monument.”

James and Jenny Tarpley met while studying art in college and began pursuing a shared passion in photography. Originally from Atlanta, they started VISIO photography in 2004, a boutique photography studio in Marion specializing in destination weddings and fine art portrait photography. At the time, they were looking for a place centrally located between Asheville, Atlanta and other nearby cities. Their Website says they frequently travel to Charleston, Atlanta, Charlotte, and various destinations internationally.

To see some of their wedding and portrait commissions, you can visit

Over the past four years, they have also pursued their love for nature and wildlife photography through Artist-in-Residence programs at various national parks and monuments. To view more of their fine art work, please visit

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