The first artists to take part in the Forest Park Forever Artist in Residence Program were the husband-and-wife duo of Kevin and Danielle McCoy, aka WORK/PLAY. Together, Kevin and Danielle spent three weeks in Forest Park, collecting fallen flower petals, dandelions and other natural materials from a compost pile to create natural dyes. The duo had designed a quilt representing a topographical view of the Park, which they have been diligently dyeing and sewing together since their residency ended in May. In advance of their public event on June 30, we wanted to catch up with the artists to get a little more insight into their project.
What was the inspiration for your Forest Park Forever residency proposal?
Forest Park is one of our favorite locations in the city. It's well managed, it exudes life and culture and overall it's just beautiful. We enjoy meditating in the park, going for walks, bike rides and at times, just taking our shoes off to sit in the grass. We feel there is a peace the Park brings to all who patronize it, so this was a great opportunity for us to work in a serene atmosphere, work with the beautiful natural landscape and produce a project that literally comes from the Park itself. We have been experimenting with several dye processes over the years along with quilt-making, so this was the first time we combined the two together to create a piece we hope visitors will enjoy.
How did you spend your time in Forest Park?
We initially mapped out sections of the Park that we wanted to work within, then week by week, we focused on those areas in addition to frequent trips back to the Forest Park Forever Land Management office to forage for as many colorful plant species as possible. The team was great at notifying us if anything 'colorful' came through. Together, we designed a somewhat abstract topographical map of our locations that we then sewed into a large quilt. Going to the Park on a weekly basis allowed us to dive into the project to the point where time really got away from us.
What was your experience like working with the Forest Park Forever Land Management team?
Wonderful and intriguing. Over the course of the residency, we emailed with the team each time we discovered a plant or flower that we needed to identify. This increased our knowledge by providing us with the scientific names of the flowers and whether or not the petals could be used for our project. By learning about the different species, we could easily recognize them on our walks and knew which ones could be collected versus ones that are a part of the nature reserve. When we spent time near the Land Management offices, the horticulturists we spoke to were all friendly, knowledgeable and approachable.
Did you learn anything new during your time in Forest Park?
Absolutely! We learned so much about different plant, tree and flower species. We also learned that the best time to forage is right after a good rainfall, and we received quite a bit of rain in May.
What can people expect from your closing event on June 30?
During the closing we will reveal the finished quilt, offer a few goodies from SweetArt and musical sounds from Darian Wigfall. We will also discuss our design-and-dye process, talk about our journey through the park each week, have a few books available that we designed specifically for the project with photography by Jen Everett, and we will do a quick demo on the dye process for patrons to take part in.
We hope you'll join us for WORK/PLAY's closing event on Thursday, June 30 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.! RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends.