M.T. Liggett

Artistry in metal, captured on film

“Moon Tosser of the Prairie,” a film written and produced by JCCC faculty and staff, is now on sale on DVD in the Museum Store of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. The cost of the 30-minute documentary is $8.

“Moon Tosser of the Prairie” tells the story of Kansas folk artist M.T. Liggett, who uses scrap farm equipment, a cutting torch and an arc welder to create metal sculptures with a political edge.

James Leiker, director, Kansas Studies Institute at JCCC, said Liggett’s art is “polemic, designed to provoke a response and touch people’s political nerves.”

Leiker said the goal of the documentary is to take more than a superficial look at the artist, who was 79 years old at the time of filming.

“When you just drive by and look at the art, it’s easy to dismiss it as weird and wacky, but when you get below the surface there is something a lot deeper there,” Leiker said. “M.T. appears to be a rural eccentric, but he’s been all over the world in the military and is well read in politics, philosophy and law.”

The genesis of the documentary was two JCCC Kansas tours. Tour participants visited Liggett to view his metals signs, windmills and other various art pieces in Mullinville, Kan., a town between Dodge City and Pratt.

Two of the tour participants became the “movers and shakers” of the documentary. Martha Varzaly, adjunct associate professor, English, is the scriptwriter; Bob Epp, senior educational technology analyst, the filmmaker. The film’s advisers are Leiker; Allison Smith, associate professor, art history; and Larry Meeker, JCCC Foundation board member and Liggett friend.

The documentary took a year to make, and its public premiere was on the JCCC campus.

The film contains interviews with Liggett at his studio in Mullinville and with Rebecca Hoffberger, founder and director of the American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, which has six Liggett pieces on display.

To secure your copy, visit the Museum Store. For questions, call the store at 913-469-2486.