British, born 1956
Wichita Arch, 2004
Goldsworthy frequently constructs stone arches—in different locations, with different materials, and at different times. Describing the arch’s intrinsic appeal, he writes: "I experience the vigour and force of stone in the arches that I make, one side clasping the other . . . so that neither gives way."(1) He likes quoting the British author D. H. Lawrence’s description of the arches in Lincoln Cathedral: "Here the stone leapt up from the plain earth, leapt up in a manifold, clustered desire each time, up, away from the horizontal earth."(2) Clearly, for Goldsworthy the arch is a dynamic form, rich with metaphorical possibilities.
For Wichita Arch, the artist specified Kansas limestone and explained his interest in using this material in this particular place:
I love the idea of an arch of [lime]stone here because the stone is so hidden, there is no sense of it being here. But not only is it there, it used to be the sea. . . . So we are the furthest away from the sea you can possibly get in America, and there’s the presence of the sea.(3)
Although it is not native to Kansas, the elm tree Goldsworthy planted beneath the arch has connections to place as well: at the site in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, where limestone for the arch was quarried, a lone elm captured his attention. Coincidentally, elms were the first trees planted on the university campus, in 1896.(4) When first installed, the arch seemed to shield the young plant. But over time, the elm’s branches are spreading out, up, and around the arch, so the two elements of the sculpture are now entwined. Like all of Goldsworthy’s works, they celebrate the elemental beauty of the natural world and the inexorable passage of time.
--Emily Stamey, Ulrich Curator of modern and contemporary art
1. Andy Goldsworthy, Stone (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994), 95.