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's 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 installa-tions on the bare earth. An eighth book contains essays and photographs 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. Patterns were made from plants, trees, snow, debris, birds, snakes, turtles, spider webs, bulldozer threads and erosion. Text patterns were made from poems and inventories of the plant, tree, bird and pollinator populations.
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 sixteen different species of trees and distributed the wood to members of the club, who turned the wood into over 100 bowls, platters, boxes, 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.
The Forest Project: Reverence, was displayed at Green Spring Gardens, in Alexan-dria. Work by ten artists, included 50 photographs, 40 turned wood pieces, three mono-prints, 15 quilts and the movie, Wild City Forest.
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.
Dawn Flores is a recent recipient of a Building Cap-abilities Grant from Culture-Works. This is the second time she has received support from CultureWorks. The grant supports opportunities, which pertain to the recipient’s effectiveness, 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, an en-vironmental short film by Dawn Flores, was selected to be shown at the Richmond Environmental Film Festival. It was also screened at Green spring Gardens, in Alex-andria; Crossroads Art Center, in Richmond; and enjoyed an international audience on-board the Wind-spirit in French Polynesia, as part of the traveling excur-sions program of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The Forest Project has enjoyed generous support, in the form of resources, labor, advice or services from the following Richmond businesses: Culture-Works, Plain and Fancy Car-pentry, Patrick Gregory Films, KBenner Designs, Ac-tion Photography, Truetimber Arborists, Quilting Adven-tures, Woodcraft of Rich-mond, Jahnke Road Devel-opers, the Breeden Company and Virginia Resources Recycled.