Fellows Friday: Q&A with Karen M’Closkey & Keith VanDerSys

Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys, 2013 Pew Fellows. Photo by Colin Lenton.

As part of our new “Fellows Friday” web feature, we focus on the artistic lives of our Pew Fellows: their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges. This week, we speak to 2013 Pew Fellows and landscape architects Karen M’Closkey and Keith VanDerSys, founding partners of PEG office of landscape + architecture and PennDesign faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. Together, M’Closkey and VanDerSys explore the potential of new digital tools, fabrication technologies, and construction to expand the beauty and sustainability of the contemporary urban landscape. M’Closkey’s book Unearthed: the Landscapes of Hargreaves Associates (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) recently received the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize, awarded by the Foundation for Landscape Studies.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

We practice, write, and teach collaboratively, so we are doing what we love. We are continually challenged by our colleagues and students, which feeds our work in intellectual ways. However, if pressed to choose an alternate path, Karen would love to be a documentary filmmaker.

What is your favorite title of an art work?

Though we can’t choose a single title or piece, we both greatly appreciate and admire Walton Ford’s work. His witty and perverse stylistic interpretations of Audubon’s naturalist illustrations are both intelligently historical and visually compelling about humans’ control and impact on the natural world.

What music are you listening to? Which books are on your bedside table?

Listening to Broken Bells After the Disco. Reading Martin Kemp’s Seen/Unseen: Art, Science, and Intuition from Leonardo to the Hubble Telescope and Visualizations: The Nature Book of Art and Science.

What images or things keep you company in the space where you work?

Our Senegal parrot, Icarus, keeps us endlessly entertained and inspired.

Percussionist and Pew Fellow Pablo Batista presents El Viaje (The Journey), a new performance work.

Grants & Grantees

Hanna Khoury (Pew Fellow, 2010) was trained in Western classical music and has performed with several orchestras. His passion, however, lies in Arab classical music.

Choreographer and Pew Fellow Lela Aisha Jones on the importance of “creative spirits” in her family, what motivates her to create, the Philadelphia arts scene, and more.

Grants & Grantees

In 1993 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 13 dance organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Questions of Practice

A workshop and small grant opportunity, No Idea Is Too Ridiculous allows Center constituents to explore creativity and risk-taking.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Kent Thompson was named artistic director of the Denver Center Theatre Company, part of the Denver Center for Performing Arts, in 2005.

Grants & Grantees

Alice Schell is a fiction writer and a 1994 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Pepón Osorio is a visual artist and a 2006 Pew Fellow.

Meg Foley presents an exhibition of improvisational research and performance documenting up to 750 dances, which Foley performs on a daily basis at 3:15pm.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Emilya Cachapero oversees all of the Theatre Communications Group’s artistic and international programs, including grant programs and special events.

Grants & Grantees

In 2001 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 57 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.

Grants & Grantees

Nathalie Anderson is a poet and a 1993 Pew Fellow.