Lawrence artist burns message of unity in Kansas field for inauguration

Earthworks artist Stan Herd stands on an elevated platform to show the phrase he and his team seared into a hay field near Lawrence over the weekend. The phrase, burned in with a torch and outlined with mulch, will be featured in Joe Biden’s virtual inaugural celebration. (Photo by Carlos Moreno, KCUR, Kansas News Service)

Stan Herd, renowned for intricate landscape designs, featured in the “Parade Across America,” a virtual inauguration celebration.

by Carlos Moreno, Kansas News Service

A Lawrence crop artist was featured in President-elect Joe Biden’s virtual inauguration Wednesday.

Stan Herd, known for elaborate portraits and other designs cut into fields, has crafted a message of unity for Wednesday’s celebration. He and his team carefully charred the phrase, “America United” in a former hay field outside Lawrence.

The 12-man crew finished Sunday. Herd told KCUR the project, requested by the Biden-Harris inauguration team, was an easy one.

“This is the simplest image I’ve done in 25 years,” he says. “It’s just big letters.”

The large, block text covers about one acre of land belonging to one of Herd’s supporters. He calls this piece and other portraits he’s made of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden a “grassroots effort.”

“This was just an opportunity, quite frankly, to get involved in this final throwdown of the inauguration after this arduous journey that we’ve all been on to try to move the country back in a direction of normalcy,” he said.

He and his team cut the shape with weed trimmers and used mulch around the letters to form an outline. Then, they used a butane torch to burn the interior part of the letters to make them stand out.

Earthworks artist Stan Herd stood near the message he and his team created over the weekend on a hay field near Lawrence. A video of the process and an aerial view of the finished product was aired Wednesday as part of Biden’s “Parade Across America.” (Photo by Carlos Moreno, KCUR, Kansas News Service)

A video of the process and an aerial view of the finished product will be aired Wednesday as part of Biden’s “Parade Across America.”

While Herd was glad to take on this project, he said he wants to move away from political pieces in the future.

He considers himself a political moderate and has been frustrated with President Trump — who he’s worked with before.

About 18 years ago, Herd created a portrait on land belonging to then-real estate developer Donald Trump. He even met Rudy Giuliani in Trump’s office and said both men are completely different today than they were back then.

He said he’s been disappointed by the polarization of the country and hopes the coming years will allow him to focus on the art he wants to do.

“I’m just much more happy when I’m moving,” Herd said. “I’m 70. I’m recovering from cancer and I’m just on fire to change the world with art.”

Carlos Moreno is a freelance multimedia journalist who works in the Kansas City metro. The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to
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Holiday light show drive-through event held at Renaissance Festival site

by William Crum

More than 200 people attended a holiday light show drive-through event Saturday at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival site near 130th and State Avenue, Bonner Springs.

People came from all over the Kansas City area, making it a huge success.

The “Knights of Light” show’s partner was Landers’ Visions.

Visitors stay in their cars to drive through the village to see the holiday lights and scenes. The event was cosponsored by Minsky’s Pizza.

Tickets are $25 per car.

Remaining dates and times for the holiday light show drive-through are 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, Dec. 17-24, and Dec. 26-27.

Photos below by William Crum:

KCKCC is host for virtual music festival Nov. 19-20

Kansas City Kansas Community College will be the site of a November virtual music festival featuring the Los Angeles based pop-jazz vocal group, m-pact.

The m-pact Virtual Vocal Festival is Nov. 19 and 20 and can be seen through the festival’s website at

In addition to online master classes, there will be virtual clinics, video performances and a variety of other presentations and educational opportunities. The festival, which is a collaboration between KCKCC’s Music and Media Services departments, is free and open to anyone who would like to participate, however, donations are being accepted to help offset the cost of presenting the festival.

The festival will feature vocal ensembles from 10 states and three countries. KCKCC’s “Fusion,” “Funk Band” and “The Standard” are also scheduled to perform. Each night of the festival closes with a virtual concert by m-pact. To see the full schedule, visit

Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “one of the best pop-jazz vocal groups in the world” m-pact is known for its sophisticated sound that has won the group Vocal Group of the Year at the L.A. Music Awards and an Indie nomination from the Independent Grammys.

The group has been named Grand National Champs of the Harmony Sweepstakes competition and has performed with artists such as Boyz II Men, Sheryl Crow, the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Maynard Ferguson Big Band and Natalie Cole, among many others. Their “signature sound” can also be heard in television theme songs as well as Disney feature films and on radio stations throughout the world.

Started in 1995, m-pact has made five full-length albums, three EP’s and several single releases and continue to receive rave reviews and multiple awards. Billboard Magazine named them the “Best Unsigned Band” and in 2014, the group joined with New York a cappella powerhouse Duwende to produce “I Wish for All Time,” an a cappella tribute to Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. M-pact continues to thrill audiences with their innovative orchestrations and stage presence as well as their vocals as they work to stay true to the music they are performing.

  • From Kelly Rogge, KCKCC public relations officer