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

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.

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