The Road Less Traveled




Artist Dates



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Date of Work

ca. 1976


35mm slide, digitized 2020


James Smith Pierce Collection: Folk and Outsider Image Collection




UND Art Collections Repository

Artist Bio

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.

Additional Information

Father Phillip J. Wagner was a Catholic priest, who went through many rough patches to reach priesthood. Once ordained, he and his assistant, Edmund Rybicki, created a religious shrine that was later named the Rudolph Grotto Gardens and Wonder Cave. Inspired by his faith and following through on a promise to the Virgin Mary to create a religious shrine if he survived influenza, Father Wagner and Mr. Rybicki spent decades creating the shrines on the parish grounds of St. Philip the Apostle Church. Located in Wisconsin, the site consists of sculptures made out of rocks, plants, and figures that were important to him.

This image was taken inside the cave, where tourists are allowed to carefully explore.

Image is provided for educational purposes only. © University of North Dakota. All rights reserved.

Condition Notes

35 mm slide in excellent condition.


Image Location