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Skywalk Memorial Installation

3 Questions with Artist Rita Blitt and a Detailed Look at the Memorial

About 200 people were in attendance Thursday morning, including family members of the deceased and first responders, for the dedication of the Hyatt Memorial. (Photo: Daniel Boothe | Flatland) About 200 people were in attendance Thursday morning, including family members of the deceased and first responders, for the dedication of the Hyatt Memorial. (Photo: Daniel Boothe | Flatland)
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Today’s Skywalk Memorial dedication sought to bring some closure to one of Kansas City’s greatest tragedies, when, on July 17, 1981, two skywalks at the Hyatt Regency hotel collapsed, killing 114 and injuring around 200 people.

At the center of the memorial space is a stainless steel sculpture by Kansas City artist Rita Blitt. She spoke with Flatland’s Daniel Boothe. For an in-depth look at the memorial, roll over the picture below.

3 QUESTIONS WITH RITA BLITT, ARTIST, SCULPTOR OF HYATT MEMORIAL

What was your inspiration when designing this piece?

Normally when I create a sculpture, I look at drawings I have made in the past, because those were made from my gut, from a love of creating. And within that body of work I always find the right thing, but for some reason when I got the call to do this memorial, I did some new drawings. Not consciously creating drawings for the sculpture, I just started drawing. But then all of a sudden I saw this drawing on the table, and I thought ‘this is wonderful’ it really felt like the right thing. I didn’t know how it would stand up, so I hesitated, but they loved it, and lo and behold they found a way.”

Is it a depiction of anything? It almost looks like two people dancing, or is it a mother holding her baby?

Yes. It is that. It is all of the above. It is whatever you make of it. You mentioned dancing however, very good. I originally entitled it “Dancing For Life.”

Why did you change it?

Well, I thought it was a nice title, but I began to think what I was going to say today at the Memorial ceremony, and I always like to tell people when they see my work, and I mean it sincerely, that I am sending them love, and best wishes. So I changed the title to “Sending Love” because it makes the piece more meaningful. I wanted to impart maybe feelings to the families and to the park that this is filled with love.”

Roll over the circles for more information:


— Graphic by Kirstin A. McCudden and photos by Daniel Boothe | Flatland

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