Kansan Stan Herd's appearance in Biden's inauguration parade a 'gratifying' experience
For 40 years, Kansan Stan Herd has been creating artwork in a fashion that may be unusual to those who don't live in the midwest. Herd's use of open land and fields allows him to create earthworks that not only tell a story but share a message.
On Wednesday, Herd had the honor of having his art seen by the world when his earthwork piece "America United" was featured in a virtual parade as part of President Joe Biden's inauguration.
Herd, who lives in Lawrence, and his team emblazoned the phrase "America United" into a field north of Lawrence after being invited by the Biden administration to take part in the parade.
During the segment that showcased Herd and his earthwork, the process of how the crop circle was created was shown before a drone shot allowed the viewer to see the design in its entirety.
The 12-man crew completed the earthwork Jan. 17. The piece, which took five days to finish, was created using weed trimmers and mulch to create the outline. A butane torch was used to burn the interior parts of the letters.
The Biden administration first learned of Herd after he created an earthwork of Biden in 2020 A few months later, Herd created a portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris.
"The campaign got notice of us and commissioned us to create three pieces in the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin," Herd said. "We began a relationship with them and when we got down to the inauguration, they contacted us and said, 'You guys have earned the right to be a part of it if you want to,' and so we spent a few days discussing what we might create."
Herd's team pitched the idea to create an earthwork with the phrase "We the people," but at the suggestion of the Biden administration Herd's crew ultimately used "America United" — a common theme of the new administration and of Biden's inaugural speech.
"What we like to think is that it's an admonishment for all of us to unite and it's a hard time to do that right now," Herd said. "But that's the idea of the message. The new president is very much about trying to unite folks, and we all know how hard that is going to be, but if you don't try you certainly won't succeed."
Herd said being asked to be apart of Biden's inauguration was gratifying for not just him, but his team and family.
"The country has never been so divided and we like to think that this was the first step back toward reconciliation,' Herd said. "We're not naive about how hard that's going to be but to be part of that and have my art part of that and my voice part of that, it's pretty exciting."
The Associated Press and KCUR contributed to this report.