Title of Work
Date of Work
James Smith Pierce Collection
Stored: 211 Cupboard C, JSPS-04-OA-01
UND Art Collections Repository
Born in Brooklyn, New York, James Smith Pierce received his PhD in art history from Harvard University. During his career as a professor, Pierce also became an accomplished artist, whose artworks were included in important exhibitions (including a show on land art at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC) and books on contemporary earthworks and site-specific sculpture. Pierce was also a photographer, exhibition curator, and art collector.
Herman Rusch was born in 1885 to Prussian parents who settled in Trout Run Valley in northwestern Wisconsin. Rusch worked on the family farm from a young age and eventually took it over after marrying. After 40 years he retired and bought the Prairie Moon Dance Pavilion in 1952. He used this building and filled the space with natural phenomena, curios, unusual machines, and personal mementos. He constructed his first stone planter in 1958, this sparked his interest in creating and obtaining stone sculptures and planters. Rusch built an arched fence that spanned 260 feet and introduced color to his work. From here, he began to add color to freshly mixed concrete and add bits of seashells and broken bottles to his sculptures.
In addition to creating his own sculptures, Rusch also purchased artwork from other artists and by 1959, he had acquired almost 40 pieces. At the age of 94, Rusch sold the Prairie Moon at an auction and almost all the artwork from the pavilion was dispersed. He died eleven days after his 100th birthday leaving behind a self-portrait painted on concrete watching over the pavilion and his art. In 1992, the Kohler Foundation purchased and restored the Prairie Moon Dance Pavilion to recognize self-taught artists.
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Digitally preserved 2021.