NCMA Recommends: Gyre

Thomas Sayre, Gyre, 1999, three ellipses of concrete, colored with iron oxide, reinforced with steel, and mottled with dirt residue from earth casting,overall length 150 ft. Gift of Artsplosure, City of Raleigh, and various donors

Gyre: How do you say it?

Soft g. Think gyration. Gyre, as a verb, means to spin, revolve, or whirl. As a noun, it means a circular or spiral form: a ring or vortex.

The rings of the NCMA’s Gyre have inspired lovers for decades. Some romantics have even popped the question in front of North Carolina artist Thomas Sayre’s popular outdoor sculpture. As the adventure of marriage can be a whirlwind, we like this connection. What do you think of when you see the earth-cast rings of Gyre?

In this first edition of NCMA Recommends, our new weekly series inspired by the visitor favorites you submit, we offer some new ways to connect with this iconic NCMA work of art.

Local artist connection

Gyre is an example of Sayre’s earth castings, which are 3-D pieces created by sculpting directly into the earth. Watch the video to learn more about the artist, who lives in Raleigh, and his process.–Linda Johnson Dougherty, Chief Curator and Curator of on Contemporary Art


Before Chapel Hill-based folk duo Mandolin Orange’s two sold-out Museum concerts in 2019, they recorded this four-part video session under Gyre. Their sweet, modern, and earthy blend of American roots music brings the Park’s sunshine right into your living room!–Janette Hoffman, Acting Artistic Director and General Manager for the NCMA Amphitheater


These two documentary films about land art introduce you to the movement, its pioneers, and its iconic works.–Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs

– Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art (2015). Director: James Crump. Watch for free on Kanopy using your library card.

– Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy (2017). Director: Thomas Riedelsheimer. Watch on Hulu.

Coloring page

Color your own Gyre using our printable PDF. Download it, print it, and then tag us in your create on social media @ncartmuseum.

Family activities

The three rings that make up Gyre were created with help from the earth. Click over to NCMALearn for hands-on activities using rocks, sticks, and more, plus some storytime book recommendations.–Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs


Gyre was inspired by a poem by W. B. Yeats, who often explored the relationship between the spiral and the history of mankind. As more and more of us enjoy nature from the comfort of our homes, we selected four poems that remind us of nature’s beauty, offerings, and reliability. Ready to write your own? Head to NCMA Learn for a Gyre-Inspired Poetry Connections activity.–Katherine White, Deputy Director

– “On the Pulse of Morning” by Maya Angelou

– “I wandered lonely as a cloud” by William Wordsworth

– “Nature is what we see” by Emily Dickinson

– “The Gladness of Nature” by William Cullen Bryant


Here are some short and simple, but effective, mindfulness practices inspired by Gyre to help create a sense of stability, focus, and connection with nature.–Bryanne Senor, Manager of Park Programs   

More on Circa, the Museum blog

Just How Did Those “Rings” Come About?


Mar 27, 2020


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For More Information:
(919) 715-5923
Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm
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