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Bronze Installation Inspired By Idea: 'Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around'

At the new South Branch Library in the Argentine district in Kansas City, Kan., nine 700-lb. bronze panels flank the entrance, some with images of vertical stacks of library books. Artist Michael Wickerson says he drew on the theme, "Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around," a nod to children's author, Dr. Seuss, and a line from his book, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!: “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.”

As part of our series, “Artists in their Own Words,” Wickerson, also the chair of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute, talked outside the library about the project. He was assisted by two KCAI students, Keyan Alemifar and Lizzy Olson.

Interview Highlights

Working inside and outside: "We have a nice shop up at school (Art Institute) inside. Outside, you have to trust the elements...

"You wanted to pour while you were still in shadow. My students would be critical for about a 15-minute window of getting that metal out and pouring 100-pound plates, horizontal, in cold molds...and we did not have one miscast."

On working with students: "I have a real interest in putting people on major projects, investing in that, and having others learn from that process."

Family stories in a bronze panel: "My mother recognized her father's right-angle tool, which I used directly in the casting. So I can see my grandfather in it. My kids can see me within it."

Making public art accessible: "That really is where I'd like to take the public commissions, that they don't forget the three-year-old's eyes and points of view of it."

Wickerson's nine-panel bronze installation is located at the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library's South Branch, 3104 Strong Avenue, Kansas City, Kan.

The "Artists in their Own Words" series is supported by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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