A noted artist is providing Western Washington University with a unique gift — a 14.5-acre retreat on Lummi Island that houses her studio and has served as inspiration for 16 large-scale bronze sculptures that populate the property.
Known as Sculpture Woods, the forested property is being donated to Western Foundation, which in turn will maintain the artwork and use the property to enrich its fine arts curriculum.
"It's one of the coolest places in the world," said Kit Spicer, dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts at WWU, who has been in talks with Morris for four years on the gift. "Very few universities have anything like this."
Spicer said the property could be used to display student work in an on-site gallery, provide a concert venue for student recitals, or attract internationally known artists for short residencies.
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"The space will be a place to convene, to gather and to celebrate Anne and her art and her life, as well as moving forward to celebrate the creative process," he said.
Sculpture Woods will continue to be open to the public on the first Saturday of each month, for self-guided tours, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no admission charge. For directions, visit sculpturewoods.com
Morris created the bronzes, many of which are primal expressions of human forms, over a decade.
In an essay for the Museum of Northwest Art, Morris said "these pieces come from the forested land of mist and rain, where ravens rule and bones wash up on beaches."
She will continue to use the studio, built in 1995 overlooking Rosario Strait, but will allow WWU to host events at the property.
Western Foundation has created an endowment for the property, thanks to a small group of private donors who have committed nearly $1 million to preserve the collection and its home.