Documenting 60-acres of urban forest that has been clear-cut for development, this community based conserva-tion/art effort holds valuable lessons in collaborating with those who have oppositional views and the role of art in healing individual and com-munal grief.
Led by Dawn Flores, artists have created 100 works of art, in multiple mediums, and volunteers have rescued over 2,000 plants, collected millions of seeds and sal-vaged parts of an 1865 farmhouse, that once stood on the property.
Seven volumes of photo-graphs have been created, each documenting a different aspect of the forest. They include a book on land-scapes, plant identification, fabric patterns, woodturnings, the harvesting of the woods, the naked earth and installations on the bare earth. An eighth book contains essays and photo-graphs from each of the previous books.
Photographs taken in the woods were processed mul-tiple times before being spliced together to create patterns and uploaded to a digital print-on-demand plat-form. Quilts were sew from the fabric, then laid on the clear-cut earth to be photo-graphed, after the forest was cut. To date, 20 quilts have been made.
Before the forest was clear-cut, volunteers from Rich-mond Woodturners cut six-teen different species of trees and distributed the wood to members of the club, who turned the wood into 52 bowls, hollow forms and multi-axis sculptures. On the final day of cutting, loggers gifted the project with one more truckload of cherry, maple, sweet gum and sycamore, which is currently drying before being turned.
In 2017, 30 artists exhibited 100 works, at Crossroads Art Center, in Richmond. In 2018, 18 pieces were chos-en to be shown at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School, as part of the Artist's Collect Series.
In February of 2020, The Forest Project will exhibit at Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria. The exhibition will be in conjunction with the Smithsonian's Year of the Quilt.
Dawn Flores is a recent recipient of a Building Cap-abilities Grant from Culture-Works. The grant supports opportunities, which pertain to the recipient’s effective-ness, overall growth, and longevity as an artist. The grant money was given to assist in completion of The Forest Project Studio, which will be used to finish prints and installation pieces from salvaged material.
A sister-project, Eternal Forest, was produced by Twila Jane Sikorsky. The theatrical dance production shared a show-wide collaboration with The Forest Project. Exploring themes of cycles and growth, Eternal Forest portrayed the symbiotic relationship of na-ture as a metaphor for communities within the world—a reminder that working together is essential to the human experience.
Wild City Forest
Wild City Forest, an en-vironmental short film by Dawn Flores, was selected to be shown at the Richmond Environmental Film Festival. It was also screened at Crossroads Art Center, in Richmond, and enjoyed an international audience on-board the Windspirit in French Polynesia, as part of the traveling excursions pro-gram of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.