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Politics, Elections and Government

Lawrence Artist Burns Message Of Unity Into Kansas Field For Biden-Harris Inauguration

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Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
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Earthworks artist Stan Herd stands on an elevated platform to show the phrase he and his team seared into a hay field near Lawrence over the weekend. The phrase, burned in with a torch and outlined with mulch, will be featured in Joe Biden's virtual inaugural celebration.

Stan Herd, renowned for intricate landscape designs, will be featured in the "Parade Across America," a virtual inauguration celebration.

A Lawrence crop artist will be featured in President-elect Joe Biden’s virtual inauguration Wednesday.

Stan Herd, known for elaborate portraits and other designs cut into fields, has crafted a message of unity for Wednesday’s celebration. He and his team carefully charred the phrase, “America United” in a former hay field outside Lawrence.

The 12-man crew finished Sunday. Herd tells KCUR the project, requested by the Biden-Harris inauguration team, was an easy one.

“This is the simplest image I've done in 25 years,” he says. “It's just big letters.”

The large, block text covers about one acre of land belonging to one of Herd’s supporters. He calls this piece and other portraits he’s made of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden a “grassroots effort.”

“This was just an opportunity, quite frankly, to get involved in this final throwdown of the inauguration after this arduous journey that we've all been on to try to move the country back in a direction of normalcy,” he says.

He and his team cut the shape with weed trimmers and used mulch around the letters to form an outline. Then, they used a butane torch to burn the interior part of the letters to make them stand out.

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Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
Earthworks artist Stan Herd stands near the message he and his team created over the weekend on a hay field near Lawrence. A video of the process and an aerial view of the finished product will be aired Wednesday as part of Biden’s “Parade Across America.”

A video of the process and an aerial view of the finished product will be aired Wednesday as part of Biden’s “Parade Across America.”

While Herd was glad to take on this project, he says wants to move away from political pieces in the future.

He considers himself a political moderate and has been frustrated with President Trump — who he’s worked with before.

About 18 years ago, Herd created a portrait on land belonging to then-real estate developer Donald Trump. He even met Rudy Giuliani in Trump’s office and says both men are completely different today than they were back then.

He says he’s been disappointed by the polarization of the country and hopes the coming years will allow him to focus on the art he wants to do.

“I’m just much more happy when I’m moving,” Herd says. “I’m 70. I'm recovering from cancer and I'm just on fire to change the world with art.”

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