Fundraiser by Friends of Villa Barr

In October 2018, the City of Novi opened Villa Barr Art Park, fulfilling its commitment to David and Beth Dwaihy Barr to establish an arts and cultural center on the site of their former residence, studios and gardens.

Central to David and Beth’s vision was the desire that their residence of over four decades be used to provide artists with the inspiration and means to create artwork that encourages others to seek new paths and strive for harmony, enlightenment, and exhilaration.
For the past three years, the Novi Parks Foundation has funded a highly successful pilot program in support of artist residencies. The Novi Parks foundation has established a designated fund to continue the program.

Now it is up to those of us who share David and Beth's vision to donate so we can continue this valuable program.

Click here to support Villa Barr

Fall 2023 

Riley Yunxuan Xu

Riley Yunxuan Xu is an interdisciplinary artist working with sculpture, installations, and imagery as mediums to observe and perceive the mundane elements of life, transcending singular disciplines and certainties to rebuild connections with space, site, and material mediums.  Compelling to amplify the absence of 'presence' in the confines of language, duration, and impermanence. Her practice aims to reveal the body as an enigmatic subject across myriad dimensions by delving into the intricacies of communication and spiritual experience, prompting viewers to contemplate the delicate balance between insemination of information and linguistic ambiguity.

During her residency at Villa Barr, the artist embarked on the creation of her sculpture piece, "Running - Unripe Cue Ball" ("运行-子母球"), which is a pivotal component of her forthcoming sculpture series. Immersing herself in the rich environment of Villa Barr, a space brimming with architectural intricacies and artistic landscapes, she temporarily diverged from her former artistic methods. Instead, she chose to walk, notice, and bear witness to the spontaneous moments that unfolded during her stay, nurturing these fragments of thought until they blossomed into her artistic creations. Throughout her research process, Xu shifted her focus from the geometric aesthetics of sculpture to the nuanced perception of distinctive locales and hidden corners. This immersive experience enabled the artist to collect local materials such as falling acorns and various types of fungi discovered within the park. These elements were meticulously dried and preserved as specimens, later finding a new life within her sculptures.

Inspired by the concept of duration, Xu's artistic mission transcends linear time perception. Her work indirectly captures elusive moments through imagery, revealing only fragments of a larger, enigmatic whole. The complete essence of it can only be grasped through an unspoken intuition of the imagination.

"Running - Unripe Cue Ball" serves as the inaugural installment in Xu's series of sculptural creations. It prompts to question whether a site can indeed become an integral facet of our inner existence, exploring the interplay and synergy between objects and the human form through non-linguistic means.


Artist in Residence - Riley Yunxuan Xu
Artist in Residence - Riley Yunxuan Xu
Artist in Residence Riley Yunxuan Xu
Artist in Residence - Riley Yunxuan Xu

Summer 2023

Kevin Brophy

Artist Kevin Brophy creating art outside on the grass

Kevin Brophy is a visual artist, writer, and educator interested in dialogical power structures—rhetorical, visual and social--with a focus on everyday language and non-dominant narratives. Broadly, her artistic practice includes new media, installation, and exaggerated digital performance that poeticizes our social and physical landscape. 

Brophy came to Villa Barr with the intention of continuing with her current series of sculptural installations, Absence Monuments. These works are contradictory to traditional monuments in their use of everyday materials and language to relate to the human body at a scale that is inviting rather than domineering. While at Villa Barr, Brophy’s material research expanded from her usual materials to that of concrete and mold-making, and from her usual methodologies to painting. Her work, “There is No Path Here” was performed in four ways: as chalk on the driveway, as astroturf on the grass, as hand-painted facsimile of the wood flooring in the residence, and as concrete stepping stones on the grass behind the pond. This last location, and Brophy’s current on-site contribution to the art park exemplifies and exaggerates the socially constructed path that park goers create once they step off the designated one.

Art on the driveway   Art displayed on wood floor

Concrete letters laid on grass

Wood letters laid on wood floor

Molds of letters in concrete

Summer 2022

Abby Marchesseault

Accomplished Dancer and Choreographer Abby Marchesseault’s first introduction to David and Beth Dwaihy Barr was through a visit to the  Michigan Legacy Art Park, founded by David and located on the grounds of Crystal Mountain Resort.  Abby was captivated by the kinetic nature of the trails and art works in the park.  She was not surprised to learn a dancer had a role in creating the Michigan Legacy Art Park.  That dancer was Beth Dwaihy Barr.  Upon researching the Barr’s she learned about the residency program at Villa Barr Art Park, Beth and David’s former home and studio, and applied with the intention of creating a dance piece that honored Beth’s life. 
Marchesseault spent several weeks at the park researching Beth’s life and works and has created a piece that will be showcased as a public performance in spring 2023.  A pre-performance demonstration is highlighted in the video below. 


Woman staring up at a willow tree

Woman dancing in art park

Woman posing in front of art display

Spring 2022

Dawn Roe

Dawn Roe works with photographic and video imaging to explore, contemplate, and envision the aura of place both spatial and temporal. Always mindful of certain ambiguities of photography - simultaneously freezing a moment while implying movement and change - Roe uses multiple imaging processes, both analogue and digital. Beginning with a deep personal engagement to and with nature, she immerses herself in place, seeking a comprehensive awareness, a knowing of it, philosophically, viscerally, historically, scientifically, and mythologically. Roe’s residency at Villa Barr is part of a long-term project in which she is considering the relationships between human and more-than-human species, their impact on one another, and the material environment in which they exist. Her work in Michigan involves multiple locations where “relationships between land and water are disputed, revered, mourned, misunderstood, or unacknowledged.” While in residence, Roe worked at locations throughout the Rouge River watershed where she constructed site-responsive studies using direct contact photographic processes marking moments of influence between terrestrial and aquatic life forms. From these studies she produced composite images from the multiple trace imprints collected, resulting in a visualization of objects and place as continuously evolving fragments.
While at Villa Barr Art Park, Roe conducted a public workshop using organic materials found in the pond to create durational, camera-less photographic prints using the light of the sun. Dawn Roe is Professor of Studio Art at Rollins College. To learn more about her work, visit

Fall 2021

Cindy Ok

Cindy Ok is a writer, translator, and educator who was in residence during Fall 2021. She spent her time editing a manuscript of poems and reading books at the intersection of textual and visual arts, using the physical space as a backdrop for new thought and theory. The house was a unique space that accommodated and drove her work, as was the surrounding art park. Through the Novi Public Library, she taught a series of multi-genre writing workshops that brought participants together through generative prompts and feedback. Writers were able to share their experiences, fragments, and ruminations, some of which revolved around the space of the city.

Cindy Ok standing against a brick wall smiling

Summer 2021

Julia Forrest

During my 5-week residency at Villa Barr I found I was not only greatly inspired by the David Barr sculptures on the property, but also by the miniature models on display around the house. Using these two elements as props to my film photographs, I posed women in the landscape to create a connection to nature. The sculptures had a mathematical connection to the landscape where my own personal photography had a spiritual connection. These elements together in one photo created a surreal preservation of the landscape that I could not achieve anywhere else.

I met with locals and photographed them on location at Villa Barr as well as landscapes that had personal meaning to them. I had them interact with the sculptures and props, the lines of their bodies matching up with the lines of the sculpture and landscapes. I hand developed these negatives and scanned them, making plans to print them in my personal darkroom back home in Brooklyn.

Learn more about Julia Forest at or follow her on Instagram Instagram Logo

Statue of a woman holding a baby phoenix
Baby Your Dreams

Inspired by the mythological Phoenix, this concrete mache sculpture of a woman holding a baby Phoenix represents how our dreams need to be protected from the fires of daily life. Cherish, nurture, baby your dreams.

Spring/Summer 2020

Shannon Timura

Shannon Timura is a professional mixed media artist and art educator who had the unique opportunity of being an artist in residence at Villa Barr in Spring/Summer of 2020. During this time, she completed a textile and concrete sculpture, “Baby Your Dreams” inspired by the mythological Phoenix. This bird is known for its ability to rise from the ashes of its past and start anew. The sculpture is of a woman cradling a baby Phoenix representing how our dreams need to be protected from the fires of daily life.
Shannon, originally from Michigan, now living in Ohio, truly enjoyed her time at Villa Barr. The beautiful park setting, and access to productive work studios allowed her to dream up new projects that will add to her existing body of work. Her goal in all her work is to incorporate positive symbolism that both educates and inspires viewers. Her method of concrete work incorporates upcycled materials to show that you can start wherever you are, with whatever is at hand. Her work carries the underlying message to simply face fear head on and bravely pursue your dreams. For this, she was named one of five “ Fearless Female Artists” in O Magazine after completing sculptural work for Proctor and Gamble’s Olay campaign.

Learn more about Shannon at or follow her on Instagram @shannonmariemakes.

Spring 2019

Jasmine Dreame Wagner

Wagner is a writer who used her time at Villa Barr Art Park to work on her novel.  The story will take place in Michigan.  Learn more by visiting


Jasmin Wagner in front on piano

Winter 2019

Willow tree at night
(in)exorable is inspired by the willowtree, which I see as a metaphor for the strength of my father. Even though there are many obstacles thrown his way, he is still able to continue on. Microscopic videos of cancer cells multiplying are projected onto the will, attempting to overtake it, but the tress still stands strong throughout.

"Trees are inexorable ... they respond well to pruning, to watering in a drought, to adding nutrients when stressed, but once established they reward the oblivious as well as the diligent." - David Barr

Katina Bitsicas

Katina Bitsicas is an artist who utilizes video, photography, sculpture and performance in her art works. Her projected video art created while in residence at Villa Barr was inspired by the beautiful natural surroundings of the park, specifically the large willow tree and David Barr’s thoughts on the cycle of life from his book Villa Barr: Tales, Trails, and Details. These works were incorporated into Katina’s existing bodies of work MCL and REVIVE about medical trauma, perseverance, and regeneration. Katina, originally from East Lansing, was excited that the Villa Barr residency gave her the opportunity to bring the natural elements of Michigan back into her artwork, as well as the opportunity to bring projected video art to the City of Novi for the community to experience. Katina has exhibited in multiple galleries, museums and festivals, both nationally and internationally. She holds an MFA from the University of South Florida and is currently the Program Director and Assistant Professor of Digital Storytelling at the University of Missouri.

Learn more about Katina Bitsicas at or follow her on Instagram @katinabitsicas.

Villa Barr Fall 2019

Blue sculpture
Bosque Urban is a representation of the trees and how they grow and fall in different directions, casting dynamic shadows and creating filtered light patterns across the pathways

Jeff Zischke

When Jeff was visiting Michigan from Arizona in 2018, he discovered the Villa Barr Art Park and learned that there was an artist-in-residency program for which he later applied. Jeff was in residence at Villa Barr August and September of 2019. During his stay he took daily nature hikes including many at Maybury State Park where he found the inspiration for “Bosque Urban,” the piece he installed at Villa Barr.

Villa Barr Fall 2018

Joo Won Park

I am a music composer living in Novi, MI, and the Villa Barr residency gave me a chance to look into my home town's natural environment through an artist's mind and view. The piece I wrote during the residency uses sounds I recorded around Villa Barr during the October and November of 2018. It is a collage of sounds often heard in the park and the Novi area. The electronic melodies heard in harmony with the nature sounds are inspired by the sculptures of David Barr. They are, for me, a uniquely-human contribution to the nature that makes the visitors rethink about the place and the time. Mr. Park has recorded solo and collaborative albums , has lectured across the US and in Korea, and has received numerous awards. He holds a PhD in Music Composition from the University of Florida and is currently an assistant professor at Wayne State University.

Learn more about Joo Won Park at


Three sculpted pieces of art in a row
Center of the soul is a thoughtful pause for contemplation of passage and transmigration.

Patty Smith

My experience at Villa Barr was both profound and enriching. Having dedicated, focused work time combined with a studio/living space was invaluable. The body of artwork that I made at my residency was a culmination of responses to the geography and geology of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron. Textures, terrain, the element of cause and effect, and a sense of place were all influences in my work. Abstracted physical environments became personal a metaphor for loss and transformation. The sculptures and wall pieces were constructed with forged and formed copper elements combined with stone graphite, and wood. During the residency, I began experimenting with encaustic wax paint. Encaustic wax is a medium that I had long wanted to incorporate into my metalwork. I believe that the physical environment of Villa Barr- the house, studios, surroundings, and influence of David Barr were all essential factors in my growth as an artist during my residency.

Artist sculpture of boat
As a part of the Irish diaspora, the boat form is an important symbol of migration within my own artistic methodology. Made from recycled materials, this sculpture is displayed as an artifact which is symbolic of my own migration through life and culture.

Summer 2018

Kaz McCue

Kaz McCue was the very first artist-in-residence at Villa Barr Art Park. He not only spent time working on his piece, Ag dul Abhaile, but he took time to help organize and go through much of David Barr’s home and studio.

Kaz drew inspiration for Ag Dul Abhaile from an old Celtic sculpture of a boat. Boating is something that has always captured his imagination. Growing up in Leelanau County on the Manitou Passage there is a rich history of boating through shipping, voyager canoes, & Native American migration. Boating also connects back to his family’s cultural history, they were brought to America on boats from Ireland as skilled laborers. Kaz really enjoyed being able to connect his interested in boating, cultural history, use of found materials and storytelling to create Ag Dul Abhaile.