Four images of music notation against a black background.

Carolyn Yarnell

Artist in Residence, 2021
McLaughlin Foundation Award, 2020

A shadow of a person's head and shoulders on orange geological scape.

Artist in Residence 2020, 2021

McLaughlin Awards Program 2020

Artist Statement

A thousand words unspoken, my art is both an expression of—and liberation from—
this material world that my restless soul has found itself temporarily
but so inextricably bound up in.
Being a visual artist, my music explores color and form through the depths of emotion.
Being a musician, my visual work draws from the formal techniques and the spontaneity
of classical musical composition, incorporating counterpoint,
tonal harmony, and improvisation to create both linear and vertical depth.
My works are not always clear representations of places or things,
they are rather like fleeting frozen moments perceived from great distances
through the curved lens of time.

While at Headlands

While in residence at Headlands, I’ll continue composing/orchestrating Yosemite, and the Range of Light… a multi-movement modular orchestral work in progress that consists of 23 movements. The music is greatly varied in length and mood—celebrating nature and beauty, yet also addressing California history and poetry, featuring the prose of Dr. Lafayette Bunnell (one of the first Euro-Americans to enter Yosemite Valley as part of the Mariposa Battalion led by Major Savage); historical text compiled from John McDougal (second governor of California (1851-1852), Chief Tenei’ya (last chief of the Ahwahnechee), Major Savage, and Wovoka (Paiute religious leader of the Ghost Dance movement); and spoken word Native American prayers/wisdom/philosophy combined with Plains Indian Sign Language. In this work, the conductor takes on the role of curator. Depending on the juxtaposition of movements, each performance will have a unique structure.

At Headlands I’ll also be taking lots of photographs, writing, and listening to where spirit shall lead my path.


Selected Audio & Video


“The Gold Country,” from Yosemite and the Range of Light. Performed by David Alan Miller, Albany Symphony Orchestra, 2006.


The Same Sky, composed by Carolyn Yarnell; performed by pianist Kathleen Supové; Live performance, Southern Theatre, Minneapolis, MN


The Gold Country, score. 2006.