LAWRENCE — Several public events in early October will celebrate the completion of “here-ing,” an environmentally embedded artwork by Janine Antoni at the KU Field Station. A two-mile walking labyrinth, “here-ing” is shaped like the anatomy of the human ear that traverses a reseeded former cropland and woodland.
The Spencer Museum of Art commissioned Antoni to create a public artwork at the University of Kansas. The resulting multiyear project is a partnership that includes researchers from the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research and students from the Designbuild Studio in KU’s School of Architecture & Design. In addition to creating the labyrinth, the project has taken steps to help restore portions of the landscape through prescribed burns, cultural burns and the reseeding of native plants. At the heart of the project is an invitation for the public to return to their bodies by engaging with the land.
“Walking the circuitous path gives us an opportunity to slow down, arrive in our bodies and enter a receptive state,” Antoni said. “As we continue to draw the ear with our steps, we listen more deeply.”
Antoni and art historian Carol Becker of Columbia University will discuss the project’s creative process during a free public talk titled “To Grow an Artwork” at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Kansas Union in the Malott Room. Other KU researchers involved in the project will join Antoni for a discussion titled “Communing with the Land: How the Arts, Ecology, and Architecture Meeting Along the Path” at 6 p.m. Oct. 5 at Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop.
Finally, the public is invited to experience the labyrinth in an immersive way with music, poetry, stone carving, audiology, ecology and more. This two-day celebration will occur from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 6 and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 8.
“‘here-ing’ has brought together researchers, students, and the public to experience the land, appreciate its history, and participate in mutual rejuvenation,” said Joey Orr, Spencer Museum Curator for Research. “Walking ‘here-ing’ creates the path for others to follow.”
The “here-ing” labyrinth is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is located adjacent to the Roth Trailhead at the KU Field Station. It is searchable on Google Maps. Visitors are encouraged to wear hats, sunscreen and closed-toe shoes with long pants tucked into socks to avoid ticks.
Photo: Aerial view of “here-ing.” Credit: Dan Hughes.