David Barr Legacy Artist Residency

Inspired by the work of David Barr, Michigan Legacy Art Park and Villa Barr have collaborated to provide artists with the time, space, support, and inspiration they need to further their creative work.

Designed for artists interested in nature, health, philosophy, science, math, education, research, or the Michigan experience.

David Barr’s Legacy

In 1978, young artist David Barr began work on a site in Novi that would eventually become known as Villa Barr. In the ensuing years, Villa Barr evolved as David labored “to create an experience that can deepen our sensitivity to original sources and the interwoven dependence of life.” Filmmakers, philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, geographers, and historians from around the world came to Villa Barr to learn and collaborate. It hosted performances by musicians, poets, dancers, and opera singers. It was the crucible for artwork, both public and private, that today spans the globe.

Barr’s Four Corners Project is a conceptual work of art that links four corners of the earth. His Arctic Arc provides a visual bridge across the Bearing Straits. U.S. Senator Carl Levin described Sunsweep, Barr’s international art project along the U.S. Canadian border, as “breathtakingly creative [and] of great importance to representing and symbolizing the cohesiveness of the U.S. and Canada”. In David’s hometown of Detroit, Transcending rises above Hart Plaza to celebrate the history of organized labor. His artwork is held in museums and private collections around the world.

In 1988, David Barr was presented with the Governor’s Michigan Artist Award. During his acceptance speech, Barr spoke about his vision for a Michigan art park — a place where artists could tell the story of our state in and through the fundamental materials of nature. Illustrations or artifacts of that history already existed, but he wanted contemporary artists to bring that history to fresh and vivid life. After years of concept development and site planning, Michigan Legacy Art Park was dedicated and opened to the public in September 1995.

In his book, Crossing Lines, David Barr refers to his art as “fossils of where I have been.” Geologists know, as did David, that a fossil holds more than knowledge of the past. It can open windows to the future. David Barr strove to “create harmony with the environment… natural, social, political, global.” His artwork envisions a world where everything is “knotted into elegant, sometimes invisible, nets.”

Two Distinctly Michigan Locations

Located at two different sites in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, from the urban southeast (Villa Barr) to the forested northwest (MLAP), each location offers distinct resources, amenities, and programming.

One residency is awarded for each period at each location. As the resident artist at either location, the artist shall create and exhibit their artwork and share their creative process with the public.

Michigan Legacy Art Park residency application
Villa Barr residency application

David Barr developing the Four Corners Project

David Barr developing the Four Corners Project

Sawpath No 4 at Michigan Legacy Art Park

Sawpath No 4 at Michigan Legacy Art Park

Stockade Labyrinth by David Barr

David Barr, Stockade Labyrinth

David Barr, Transcending

David Barr, Transcending