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A hiker who’s been painting portraits on cliffs, rocks, and slopes at US national parks and posting images of the compositions on social media is now the subject of a National Park Service (NPS) investigation, according to the blog Calipidder.
The artist, Casey Nockett, was using the since-deactivated Instagram handle @creepythings to post pictures of her au plen air acrylic vandalism. The works she documented include a portrait of a pale figure and a decorative frieze atop a rocky mountain ridge in Death Valley National Park, the face of a woman with blue hair painted in profile overlooking Crater Lake in Oregon, and a painting of a bald man’s head with a snake coming out of it in Yosemite National Park. According to reports by Modern Hiker and the Los Angeles Times, Nockett’s outdoorsy vandalism spree also took her to Zion National Park and Canyonlands National Park in Utah, Joshua Tree National Park in California, and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.
While we can’t discuss details of a case under investigation, we take the issue of vandalism seriously. National parks exist to preserve and protect our nation’s natural, cultural and historic heritage for both current and future generations. Vandalism is a violation of the law and it also damages and sometimes destroys often irreplaceable treasures that belong to all Americans.
There are forums for artistic expression in national parks because national parks inspire artistic creativity. These images are outside that forum and outside the law.
Though Nockett has since gone silent on Instagram, a Tumblr blog where she had previously posted images of her interventions now records her interactions with angry commenters.
In response to one critic, Nockett wrote: “if banksy did it u’d have a hardon.” But her allusion to the secretive British street artist only earned her more vitriol for deigning to compare herself to Banksy. She then posted the following retort:
YOU ARE RIGHT I AM NOT AS GOOD AS BANKSY BUT IF I WAS THEN PEOPLE WOULD STEAL ROCKS FROM NATIONAL PARKS AND SELL THEM AT LLOYDS AUCTIONS FOR 12 MILLION POUNDS SO IT’S ACTUALLY GOOD
National parks in the US are federally owned land, and as such any acts of vandalism committed thereupon are considered federal misdemeanors punishable by a fine or jail time.