M.T. Liggett's Political Sign FieldMyron (M.T.) Liggett (1930-2017)
Highway 154, Mullinville, KS, 67109, United States
1989 - 2017
The M.T. Liggett Art Environment Visitors Center is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm. The outdoor artwork is viewable 24/7. Additionally, a few of his pieces have been installed around Kansas and can be seen at the Kansas Grassroots Art Center in Lucas, KS and on the roads surrounding both Mullinville and Lucas.
About the Artist/Site
Myron “M.T.” Liggett was born in the three-block long Kansas town of Mullinville and, with the exception of several years of military service, lived there all his life. Working out of an old barn with a dirt floor, he has covered a section of his farmland with hundreds of what he called “totems” – kinetic whirligigs and effigies that range from the whimsical to the abstract to the downright insulting. The panoply of signs start on US Hwy 400, the main thoroughfare of Mullinville, and then continue, heading north on graveled Elm Street, past his workshop. All told, there is a half mile of signs, after signs, after signs, sometimes three or more deep, an explosion of color, movement, and commentary cutting into the flat Kansas landscape.
Liggett started creating the Sign Field on his family property after leaving the military in 1989. He cut and welded his sculptures by taking a plasma arc cutter and welder to scrap pieces of recycled metal machinery parts, road signs, and gears; many are enhanced with other found materials including bowling balls and toilet seats. The majority of these primarily flat or bas-relief pieces are painted and almost all have banners naming or describing the attached work. Signs in the menagerie include Liggett’s friends and women from his past; others are cartoonish and include cute animals and ghosts. Some of them whirl in the prairie winds.
But the signs that receive the most attention are the grotesque and irreverent political scarecrows dotting the roadside. Neither a bleeding heart liberal nor a hawkish conservative, Liggett went after everyone: there are nasty caricatures of Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Kennedy, among others. These are not mild-mannered critiques, but, rather, often offensive and occasionally obscene representations. Although Liggett visually attacks politicos in the federal, state and very local governments (the county sheriff and judges), their constituents are no less safe from his acetylene scalpel, as he has controversially propped up sculptures lampooning several of his Mullinville neighbors. "When I put up a piece of art, I don't ever ask anybody if they like it or they don't like it," he has said. "If you like it, that's fine. If you don't, I don't care."
Although on his private property, Liggett’s totems are always viewable from the road, as intended by their linear placement just on the other side of—or attached to—the boundary fence. Additionally, a few of his pieces have been installed around Kansas and can be seen at the Kansas Grassroots Art Center in Lucas, KS and on the roads surrounding both Mullinville and Lucas.
Update: M.T. Liggett passed away August 17, 2017. His site is now a preservation project of Kohler Foundation (KFI). In 2019 KFI began work on the site, including building a new visitor center and conserving the artwork. This work will continue throughout 2020. Upon completion of the project, the site will be gifted to 5.4.7 Arts Center in Greenburg, Kansas.
Update: The M.T. Liggett Art Environment has been fully conserved the the Kohler Foundation and is now stewarded by the 5.4.7. Arts Center. The Visitors Center is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm, and the outdoor artwork is viewable 24/7.
scrap metal, found objects
SPACES Archives Holdings
1 folder: clippings, correspondence
M.T. Liggett drone footage
Flying over the recently preserved M.T. Liggett art environment in Mullinville, Kansas. Footage shot in 2021 by Dan Smith of Kohler Foundation, Inc.
Map & Site Information
Mullinville, KS, 67109 us
Latitude/Longitude: 37.5861307 / -99.475674