Dry Tortugas Artists-in-Residence Beth and Hailey Williams


BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW: Mother-daughter artist/writer team Beth Tockey Williams and Hailey Morgan Williams discuss their National Parks Arts Foundation residency in Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys. Listen to their interview on BlogTalkRadio.com, Spreaker.com, SoundCloud.com, or YouTube.com.


The very first pair of mother and daughter artists chosen for the National Parks AiR program, landscape artist and soft pastelist Beth Williams along with writer and poet Hailey Williams, spent September 2019 immersed in their artistic and environmental endeavors, on a pristine, isolated island at Dry Tortugas National Park. This program is an ongoing collaboration between the Park Service and The National Parks Arts Foundation.


Beth Williams, of Edisto Island South Carolina, is an award-winning artist and Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America. Beth earned a Fine Arts degree and Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Texas Tech University, teaching art for private and public schools as well as art museums across the country and abroad. Beth’s current work focuses on diverse sea island landscapes, exploring in technique, focusing on movement and textural quality of tidal and ocean waves. She prefers to begin her paintings outdoors, observing nature and the fleeting light effects on color, shape, and texture in the landscape.


Hailey Williams’ current work focuses on the bridge between nature and the human spirit. Highly visual, her writing tends to draw the surreal from everyday details and punctuates the necessity of collective memory through examination of the parahuman and othered; what does it mean to occupy the extremity of society? Hailey attempts to analyze this issue through the subtle reflection of human thought and emotion onto “extreme” landscapes such as swamps, deserts, tundras, and seascapes. With such vital ecosystems threatened by and threatening to the chosen model of modern society, Hailey finds connection more important than ever as a conduit to express human othering and to explore its remedies.

Another Kind of Gulf
by Hailey M Williams


Is it you rustling the spider lilies? Is it you
I hear gossiping with the court of gulls on the dock?
When I walk each night to the lighthouse to record solar data,
is it your weight which rounds the hammock, or wind, or young coconuts?



Are you there, I want to know, when mother and I skim through waves
hiding Little Africa reef? Do you hunker down between the brains
and spin tales to the sea fans? Is it really you stepping bright
between my dreams, or just lightning in the channel?


Is that your hand reaching over a field of sea oats,
are those your long blue fingers carrying the scarce rain?
Are hermit crabs your emissaries, or noddies, or the moon jellyfish
who haunt us much like you do? Are you scared to be so far from home?


Was it your hum over my shoulder which brought me to the perfect conch shell,
a pink and bony fist awash in sea lavender? I will hold it like your hand.
Is it you pulling bottles by their necks so I can find them in the sand?
Are there messages inside? If so, you ought to know,


I can’t read what can’t be written.
Will I have to die before I can give you my reply?



Dry Tortugas National Park is located almost 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West. The 100 square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of birdlife that frequent the area. Visitors enjoy camping, snorkeling, bird watching, fishing or just enjoying a view from the top of massive Fort Jefferson. Fort Jefferson is the largest all-masonry fort in the United States, built between 1846 and 1875 to protect the nation’s gateway to the Gulf of Mexico. More at http://www.nps.gov/drto/learn/news/newsreleases.htm

National Parks Arts Foundation is a non-profit 501c3 charitable foundation. The AIR Program is made possible through the philanthropic support of donors of all sorts ranging from corporate sponsors, small business, and art patrons and friends groups of the Parks. More at www.nationalparksartsfoundation.org.

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