Karen M’Closkey

2013 Pew Fellow

1/9: Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys, 2013 Pew Fellows. Photo by Colin Lenton.
2/9: Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys, Not Garden, 2009. Geotextile, grass seed, gravel, 400 square feet. Part of the “Incremental Infrastructure” series. Photo courtesy of the artists.
3/9: Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys, Not Garden, 2009. Geotextile, grass seed, gravel, 400 square feet. Part of the “Incremental Infrastructure” series. Photo courtesy of the artists.
4/9: Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys, Dew Point, 2010. CNC custom-cut cardboard templates, concrete waterproof sealer, 1,500 square feet. Photo courtesy of the artists.
5/9: Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys, Dew Point, 2010. Computer visualization. Photo courtesy of the artists.
6/9: Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys, Dew Point, 2010. CNC custom-cut cardboard templates, concrete waterproof sealer, 1,500 square feet. Photo courtesy of the artists.
7/9: Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys (in collaboration with PLY Architecture, Almost Nothing, 2006. CNC custom-milled plywood formwork, precast concrete, native planting, 3,300 square feet. Photo courtesy of the artists.
8/9: Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys (in collaboration with PLY Architecture, Almost Nothing, 2006. CNC custom-milled plywood formwork, precast concrete, native planting, 3,300 square feet. Photo courtesy of the artists.
9/9: Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys (in collaboration with PLY Architecture, Almost Nothing, 2006. CNC custom-milled plywood formwork, precast concrete, native planting, 3,300 square feet. Photo courtesy of the artists.


“We argue that patterns—due to their legibility and coherent structure—carry the potential to bind together landscape’s utilitarian and aesthetic functions: system and composition; performance and appearance; matter and sign.”

Karen M’Closkey (b. 1969) and Keith VanDerSys (b. 1968) explore the potential of new digital tools, fabrication technologies, and construction to expand the beauty and sustainability of the contemporary urban landscape. Their projects experiment with patterns that intrigue the eye as well as enhance natural functions, such as water flow and plant growth. Together, M’Closkey and VanDerSys have created techniques that result in a signature aesthetic, leading the way in the next generation of landscape design and contradicting notions that patterns are pretty but useless. They have worked with agencies such as the Philadelphia Water Department and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and they recently finished writing a book about the effects of digital advances in their field (Dynamic Patterns: Visualizing Landscapes in a Digital Age, forthcoming from Routledge).

M’Closkey holds an M.A. in landscape architecture from Harvard University. She received the 2012-2013 Garden Club of America Rome Prize in landscape architecture, and is the author of Unearthed: The Landscapes of Hargreaves Associates (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 J.B. Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies. She and VanDerSys are founding partners of PEG office of landscape + architecture as well as PennDesign faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.

References

Equilateral, a novel by Pew Fellow Ken Kalfus, was chosen by The Daily Beast as its 2013 Novel of the Year.

Filmmaker and Pew Fellow Rea Tajiri on documenting the aging process, her affinity for storytelling, and her most treasured possession.

Visual artist and Pew Fellow Pepón Osorio talks about the relationship between artistic practice and “the local.”

Grants & Grantees

Bristol Riverside Theatre created a managing director position, which led to audience growth and greater revenues.

Pew Fellow Geoff Sobelle’s award-winning production of The Object Lesson travels to Ohio’s Wexner Center for the Arts.

The Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance is an evening-length autobiographical dance, the culmination of Philadelphia-based breakdancer Raphael Xavier’s 30 years of experience in hip-hop genres. Xavier, a 2013 Pew Fellow, plays with the rhythms of rap, break dancing and narrative to draw parallels between the performer’s body and the stage itself.

Grants & Grantees

Originally trained as a muralist, 2011 Pew Fellow Tim Portlock began experimenting with digital media platforms in the late ’90s.

This month’s Fellows news digest features Geoff Sobelle’s “charming and sobering” performance piece; the trailer for The Barefoot Artist, a new film about Lily Yeh, filmed by Glenn Holsten; and Marshall Allen interviewed in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Sarah Lutman has worked in the arts and nonprofit sector for the past 35 years, and she is currently an independent consultant and entrepreneur.

Grants & Grantees

InterAct Theatre Company is committed to producing socially and politically relevant work for theater.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Dr. Linda Caruso Haviland, associate professor at Bryn Mawr College, is the founder and director of its dance program as well as the chair of the arts program.

Grants & Grantees

In 2004 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 76 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.