How To Build A Forest took a huge effort to build. After a year of conversation, research, and experimentation, the building began. From February 2011 – June 2011 over 4000 hrs of labor were spent on the making of the installation. A team of assistants, along with PearlDamour, joined me to construct support systems, sew trees and ground cover, and hand embroider details on the trees themselves. We worked in a former movie theater in the Bywater of New Orleans, somewhat open air in its unfinished state. We experienced the bitter cold to the blistering heat, until we finally packed it up to head to New York City for our premiere at the Kitchen.

I would like to take a moment to list here the unsung heroes who helped me to create this Forest installation. Thank you to the following assistants and others in New Orleans, and elsewhere*, who donated their time, energy, and thought to this project. It was a pleasure!

Alton Osborne and Flavor Paper for making possible the 2 part silk screening of 100 yards of chiffon to make the big tree & the donation of paper to make the hand painted leaf/vine branches

Rachel David/Red Metal for making awesome steel armatures and infrastructure throughout the piece

Jeff Matteson for letting us invade his fabulous personal space to make our Forest

Angela Driscoll for making our beautiful field guide, and also for french knots on trees & embroidered field guide markers

Becca “Bear” Hebert for ready assistance in the concept phase and in all phases throughout the making of

Margaret Hull for ready assistance in all phases of sewing and embroidery throughout

Patch Somerville for ready assistance with small armature fabrication and all phases non sewing related

Stacy Hoover/Time Will Tell for donation of “tree time” watches

Thanks to the Embroiderers:

Margaret Hull (additional stump embroidered elements)

Becca “Bear” Hebert

Stella Giblas

Hannah Chalew

Anna Ialeggio

Brooke Hoff

Erica Lambertson

Hillary Gayle

Mandy Stahl

Monica Gunderson(also was seamstress)

Natalie McLaurin

Sarah Lavine

*Out of town visitors who participated during our Residency at Antenna Gallery:

Carrie Kaplan (PhD, Performance and Public Practice, UT, Austin) for research for our field guide and blog

Joe Bigley (visual art faculty at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC) for help designing and fabricating small armature related to the big tree branches and the ill fated ‘bula’, and also for help sourcing materials in Boone, NC. Joe was one of the first builders during our Appalachian State University Residency, along with Jaclyn Bowie, Katie and Josh.

Also, many thanks to our Forest Builders (during performance):

Becca “Bear” Hebert

Barbara Hailey

Phil Kramer

Moose Jackson

Patch Somerville

Joanna Russo (Flash Mob Coordinator/Gatekeeper/Builder Understudy)

Also, thanks to the following people who provided amazing research trips:

John Mason for the fabulous Hornby Island trip, off the coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island

National Forest Ranger Tate Thriffly for a great introduction to Mississippi’s Desoto National Forest flora

Nick Slie – while I didn’t go on this trip into the Louisiana swamp, I’m grateful that PearlDamour had the chance to join you!

Monique Verdin for showing us the amazing trees on her family’s land in St. Bernard Parish, LA

Thanks also to Antenna Gallery for giving us a month residency to concentrate on research and the field guide, and Anna Ward at Appalachian State University for making a great residency happen that was pivotal to the making of this installation/performance.

For more on the making of HTBAF and our Antenna & App State Residencies and fundraising efforts click the following links:


Appalachian State University

USA projects