'Walking Wall' Enters Kansas City Art Museum As Permanent Addition

Dec 4, 2019
Originally published on December 5, 2019 10:48 am
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And now the story of a wall, a specific wall in Kansas City, a wall that has been built, torn down and rebuilt five times just this year. It's a 100-ton art project that's been moving towards a glass building, where it stops today. Frank Morris of member station KCUR reports.

FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: I think of this as a long, twisting stone wall full of mischief.

ANDY GOLDSWORTHY: It is in all sorts of ways an anti-wall. It goes - it's an errant - it's a wall gone rogue.

MORRIS: Andy Goldsworthy, an artist famous for outdoor sculptures with rocks and wood, is the guy behind the "Walking Wall."

GOLDSWORTHY: It doesn't follow boundaries, borders; it crosses them. It connects things. It does everything walls normally don't do.

MORRIS: Like moving - one rock at a time. Workers built the first part using rough limestone in an open lot across from the Nelson-Atkins art museum. Then they began tearing it down, back to front, and rebuilding it stone by stone, right across a busy four-lane street.

GOLDSWORTHY: It was and it is inconvenient, and it's been in the nature of this will not to behave.

MORRIS: By midsummer, the wall had squiggled up to block an entrance to the museum.

GOLDSWORTHY: This was where I got the most vociferous reaction. And people walked across here aiming for the air conditioning of the Nelson-Atkins, and there's this wall in their way - and the anger.

MORRIS: But this wall is getting a ton of love from people like Laurel Hughes, a local painter.

LAUREL HUGHES: I like to come up every morning. Yes, I love the wall. I love the energy. I love the whole project.

MORRIS: And she's not alone. Just Monday morning, visitors from Texas, New Jersey and Alaska milled around looking at it. And lots of Kansas City residents have built this wall into their lives, people like Rick Krupco, who says this project draws him in every day.

RICK KRUPCO: I think the movement is it. A wall is a wall, but the fact that - a wall that actually moves, kind of like a Slinky, you know, the back of it turns into the front of it - it's simple but also fascinating.

MORRIS: But today, Goldsworthy says construction will stop, when a bit of the wall enters the building it's been slithering around for months.

GOLDSWORTHY: When you stand inside, you'll see a small fragment inside the museum, and you know there's a much bigger story outside - that's the lesson. That's what I think people should reflect upon.

MORRIS: Everything in the museum is just the tip of some long, maybe tortured, maybe sweet path it took to get there.

For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris in Kansas City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.