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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Lummi artist donates 15-acre island retreat to Western

Ann Morris, creator of the bronze sculptures in the “Sculpture Woods,” donated her forested property to Western, which will be used to enrich the university’s creative and artistic learning. // Photo courtesty of Mark Brovak

By Ali Raetz

Western has been gifted a donation of 15-acres of retreat space and forested land on Lummi Island from a renowned sculpture artist.

Ann Morris, the creator of the bronze sculptures that inhabit the tranquil forest surrounding her studio, is donating her forested property known as “Sculpture Woods” to the Western Washington University Foundation.

Western will sustain Morris’ creations, maintain the landscape and use the space to enrich the university’s creative and artistic learning, according to a pamphlet made by the Western Washington University Foundation.

The pamphlet said the space on Lummi Island will be used as an alternative learning environment, as well as a place to hold scholarly activities, recitals and retreats for Western students and special guests.

Kit Spicer, the dean of Western’s college of fine and performing arts, has been a key figure in making this donation possible for Western.

The bronze scultptures that inhabit the Lummi Island space were inspired by the “forested land of mist and rain.” // Photo courtesy of Mark Brovak

“Everyone that I’ve talked with that’s been [to Sculpture Woods] feels that this is a special place for creativity,” Spicer said. “You can just feel creative energy in the land, the woods, the sculptures, the structured studio. Everyone has been delighted by the whole idea of this.”

While the space is not yet fully operational, Western plans to experiment with small events, Spicer said.

Morris is a notable artist whose unique work has been shown all across the country.

In an essay to the Museum of Northwest Art, Morris said she finds inspiration for her bronze sculptures of humans from “the forested land of mist and rain, where ravens rule and bones wash up on beaches.”

She said she is especially fascinated with bones, which can be seen in many of her art pieces.

According to a Western Today article, Morris said, “Sculpture Woods has been in the making since 1995. The studio, in its quiet natural setting, has been the home of my creative work. What has emerged is a place where my art lives and more can be generated. The gift of Sculpture Woods to Western Washington University Foundation is given in the hope of this Place continuing to inspire creativity in all who come here, Western students, professors, the public. May it be a gift that continues giving.”

Senior Matt Gudakov said it will be exciting to have more options for music students to host their senior projects.

He said it can be difficult to secure a spot in the main concert hall with the number of music students who need to perform final recitals.

Western has been in communication with Morris about the donation since winter 2014, Spicer said.

The final papers of transfering the property over to the WWU Foundation were signed December 2017. 

Spicer said Morris is currently leasing back the land from Western, and under her discretion Western events may be held there. She will continue to lease the property for as long as she desires. When she decides to end her lease, the full rights of the property will turn over to the foundation.


  1. What a beautiful and lasting gift for WWU. Art lives. Thank you Ali Raetz for sharing a story of inspiration!


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