Earthwork artist Stan Herd breaks ground on project honoring Bob Dole

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Kansas artist Stan Herd, known worldwide for his earthworks, broke ground Tuesday on a project that will honor U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who died in December 2021 at age 98.

This year marks the Dole Institute of Politics’ 20th anniversary, and what would have been Dole’s 100th birthday.

Dole, a Republican, was perhaps best known for his willingness to reach across the aisle during his nearly three decades representing Kansas at the national level, from 1969 through 1996.

“Here at the Dole Institute of Politics, we not only remember this legacy of bipartisan cooperation, but we actively honor it each and every day through our institutional mission, inspiring people of all ages, and especially of new generations to listen empathetically, think critically and engage productively with people who may have a different view of things,” Audrey Coleman, director of the Dole Institute, said just ahead of the groundbreaking.

Coleman said it’s not easy to seek out the middle ground, but it’s “the only viable choice for the shared, safe, and productive future for our democracy.”

“The raw materials are right with us, and like this earthwork to be revealed in July, the solutions are hiding in plain sight,” Coleman said. “The common ground still exists, and we just need to uncover it — and then together we can celebrate it.”

Herd recalled the last time he saw Dole — at a KU football game in the lobby of the Oread Hotel. Herd said he got to spend a few minutes with Dole. When you had a conversation with Dole, he wasn’t looking over his shoulder or out at who else was in the room; he was looking right at you and talking right at you, Herd said.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Artist Stan Herd speaks to the crowd at the groundbreaking for an earthwork honoring Bob Dole, April 25, 2023.

The artist was not yet sure exactly what the project will look like, but “we’re going to have a lot of fun out here.”

“We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, but we’re confident it’s going to be cool,” Herd said, drawing laughter.

The public is invited to come watch Herd and his team work as the image takes shape over the summer. The earthwork will take form just east of the entrance to the Dole, 2350 Petefish Drive on the University of Kansas’ west campus.

“We have plans to engage students all across Kansas in this piece,” Coleman said. Students statewide are invited to contribute images and drawings, which will be sealed onto tiles and incorporated into the final design, according to the project website.

Also in attendance Tuesday were U.S. Sens. Trent Lott and Tom Daschle, both of whom said they were honored to be there to pay tribute to Dole, a “great leader.”

The earthwork is part of a “Landmark Celebration” honoring Dole’s 100th birthday, culminating on July 22 with a free, family-friendly, daylong event. It will remain in place until KU’s homecoming in October.

More information about the project is available via the Dole Institute’s website at doleinstitute.org/landmark.

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— Lawrence Times reporter Mackenzie Clark contributed to this article.

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