Art in Nature

Securing Sculpture Woods

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Whenever people ask what shouldn’t be missed on a trip to Lummi Island, I make sure and include lauded artist Ann Morris’ Sculpture Woods on the suggested itinerary.

Words like “magical,” “mystical” and “memorable” are apt to come up during attempts to describe what it’s like to come across life-sized figurative bronze sculptures aged by time and placed amid the ferns, moss and forests that surround the scenic 14.5 acres, but it’s necessary to visit the outdoor “gallery” overlooking Rosario Strait in person in order to truly appreciate the masterful merging of art and nature.

Now, thanks to a recent donation of the property and all of its many creative contents from Morris and her son and daughter to Western Washington University, the ability to appreciate the art and all that surrounds it is secured for generations to come.

“Sculpture Woods has been in the making since 1995,” Morris said in a mid-January press release announcing the gift of the acreage, art studio, indoor exhibit space, yoga house and both large and small works of art. “The studio in its quiet natural setting has been the home of my creative work. What has emerged is a place where my art lives and more can be generated. The gift of Sculpture Woods to Western Washington University Foundation is given in the hope of this place continuing to inspire creativity in all who come here—Western students, professors, the public. May it be a gift that continues giving.”

Private donors helped make Morris’ dream a reality, committing nearly a million dollars to help preserve the collection and its home and promote arts education for generations of students and visitors. The separate endowment will provide funds for ongoing preservation of the property; additional contributions are welcome.

Morris will continue to lease back the space from the WWU Foundation for as long as she wishes, and when she decides to terminate the agreement, the rights of usage will transfer to the Foundation. Western’s College of Fine and Performing Arts will then step in, using the property and its world of wonders as an active learning and collaborative space, while Western Gallery will use Sculpture Woods to further encourage the use of the works for educational and research purposes. Visiting artists, special events and more will also be part of the curriculum.

“Over the years, I’ve worked on a lot of interesting donations, but none as exciting and worthy as Ann’s gift of Sculpture Woods to the college and university,” said Kit Spicer, dean of WWU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts. “Sculpture Woods will be transformative for the ways in which students and faculty engage their own work, most notably with the gift of time and place in which to nurture their own creativity; thereby honoring Ann’s spirit and vision.”

For now, the space will continue to be open to the public from 10am-5pm on the first Saturday of every month, or by appointment. And with Morris still acting as the artist in residence, there’s a chance you may come across the sculptor herself on your meanderings through the forest or in the studio.

If so, that might be a good time to thank her for the years she’s been sharing her creative space, and for the generous gift that secures her legacy.

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