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.

Mayor Michael Nutter hails Sherlock, Philadelphia’s second-ever poet laureate, as one of the city’s “most talented homegrown artists.”

A conversation with Pew Fellow Jumatatu Poe, Donte Beacham, and LaKendrick Davis on the underground dance style of J-Sette and how Poe drew on its legacy for Private Places, a new Center-funded work.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Janet Wong became rehearsal director of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1996 and associate artistic director in 2006.

Grants & Grantees

In 1998 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 52 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Grants & Grantees

Marshall Belford Allen, a 2012 Pew Fellow, has been an active member of the Sun Ra Arkestra for over 50 years, and has helmed the historic jazz group since 1995, following the death of jazz pioneer Sun Ra.

Grants & Grantees

Robert Maggio is a musician and a 1999 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.

Choreographer and Pew Fellow Merián Soto on legacy, her interest in the body and its relationship to consciousness, and more.

Center-supported performance projects and exhibitions continue to have successful presentations after their initial premieres in our region.

Grants & Grantees

Located in Chinatown North in Center City Philadelphia, Asian Arts Initiative fosters social change through art.

Grants & Grantees

Philly ReACTS is a series of multidisciplinary public performances that take place in response to current, sometimes divisive events that have the power to affect us all.

Grants & Grantees

In 1994 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 34 dance and music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.