University News

Western Students to Create Labyrinth at The Brickyard

April 7, 2005

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MACOMB, IL – When most people think of a labyrinth they think of an almost endless maze where wits come into play in order to escape. But a labyrinth is quite the contrary – it can actually be a place of such serenity that it’s used as a healing tool at hospitals, nursing homes, schools and churches.

According to Kelley Quinn, Western Illinois University Spanish instructor and local artist, labyrinths are experiencing a revival because of their simple holistic effects. Quinn, along with several Western students, will begin creating a labyrinth made of bricks and crushed bricks this weekend at The Brickyard in Colchester. This is the fifth public art piece completed by Quinn in conjunction with Western students and the community.

“Labyrinths are turning up all over the world due to their meditative aspect,” Quinn explained. “They can be used for spiritual and religious purposes, as artistic expression, for health and well-being, for contemplation and just for fun.”

The group will begin the initial site work at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 9. Another weekend work date will be scheduled at a later date, Quinn added. The design chosen for the Moses King Brick & Tileworks National Historic District in Colchester is the classical labyrinth with contemporary modifications to make it handicap accessible. The classical Labyrinth, which is more than 4,000 years old, could be found on every continent in prehistory, she said. Labyrinth images were stamped on ancient coins as a reminder to think before spending, and they can be found in the designs of the great pyramids, the ritual weavings of the Aztecs and in cathedrals.

“This particular labyrinth is comprised of a circular center surrounded by seven concentric circles with circuits or turns connecting them,” Quinn said. “Labyrinths are unicursal, meaning there is only one path leading to the center as opposed to multicursal mazes which can have multiple paths and dead ends.

“Because there is only one path, the simple act of walking to the center and back triggers the ‘relaxation response,’ allowing the walker to focus and contemplate specific issues or just clear the mind making labyrinths natural meditation tools,” she added.

Members of the public who are interested in volunteering should contact Quinn at 309/837-2338. The Brickyard is currently closed to the public; however, tours may be scheduled by contacting Dev at 309/776-3444.

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing