Date of Work
35mm color slide
James Smith Pierce Collection
Stored: 211 Cupboard C, JSPS-01-OE-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.
Paul and Matilda Wegner
Paul and Matilda Wegner were German immigrants who settled in LaCrosse, Wisconsin where Paul worked for the railroad. After retirement the Wegners visited Holy Ghost Park in Dickeyville, Wisconsin built by Father Mathias Wernerus, a self-taught folk artist. This monument inspired the Wegners to start construction of their own monument on their farm. In 1929 Paul and Matilda began constructing their grotto. Sculptures decorated their farm, adorned with small pieces of glass, old pottery and other odd materials. Among the sculptures was a large replica of the couple’s fifteenth anniversary wedding cake, a Bremen steamship, and a large glass church structure which Paul’s funeral was held in after his death in 1937. Matilda continued to work on the sculptures after her husband’s death, adding finishing touches to pieces and small details to the area where Paul was buried. The grotto is now under the ownership of the Kohler foundation and has been restored to maintain the property.
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Digitally preserved 2021.