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Slideshow: Artist Robert Morris Tours New 'Glass Labyrinth' In Sculpture Park

Robins hopped on the manicured lawn at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Wednesday as New York-based artist Robert Morris and a small entourage previewed his new work, "Glass Labyrinth." The 7-foot-tall triangular sculpture consists of one-inch thick glass plate walls topped with bronze.

The official opening of "Glass Labyrinth" takes place Thursday in a public ceremony on the museum's south lawn. It marks the 25th anniversary of the 22-acre Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park.

Morris, 83, grew up in Kansas City, Mo., and attended Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts and the Kansas City Art Institute. Since the 1970s, the artist has created many different labyrinths of stone and wood. The sculpture at the Nelson marks his first permanent labyrinth made from glass.

Responding to the environment

As Morris approached the entrance and set foot on a 43-inch-wide pathway Wednesday, he said he was pleased with the way it came together. There is just one way in and one way out of the labyrinth, and Morris was joined by several others eager for a chance to walk through the glass maze with him.

Steve Waterman, director of presentation at the Nelson, told Morris the museum would be monitoring the visitor experience over the summer months. Installation started in March, and in the short time that the labyrinth has been in place, Waterman told Morris that he was tracking the ways that the work was responding to its environment. There is some concern about the many birds that perched on the sculpture leaving droppings.

First impressions

Just moments before Morris arrived for his tour, a team of workers scrubbed away the results of just a few days encounter with birds. But the birds did not seem to trouble him.

"Birds are the bane of any bronze sculpture," Morris said. "I imagine that soon there will be streaks of white marking the metal."

After walking through the piece, the artist said he was impressed with the unexpected play of shadows on the blue stone foundation.

"I am still absorbing it all," Morris said.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Artpresents a public celebration for "Glass Labyrinth" from 6 pm to 9 pm Thursday at the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. A conversation between Morris and art historian and biographer Barbara Rose takes place from 7 pm - 8 pm in the Atkins Auditorium, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-561-4000.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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