Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2015

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Owen F. Smith

Second Committee Member

Amy Stacey Curtis

Third Committee Member

Gene A. Felice II


This paper provides an overview of both practical and esoteric elements that inform the labyrinth design process and touches on the physiological and psychological effects of meditative walking. In addition to new installations, some other outcomes that have resulted from this research include an interactive online map of over 200 labyrinths in New England and two simple formulas for accurately calculating the path length of both 3- and 7-circuit Classical labyrinths.

Labyrinths, in their true, non-maze forms, have existed for thousands of years in numerous places around the world and there are similarities in the designs and uses of these figures despite geographic and cultural differences and the passage of time. They have served as spaces and symbols of contemplation, protection, and liminality. Global interest in labyrinths has ebbed and flowed, but there is something about these ancient symbols that keeps revitalizing that interest.

Prehistoric labyrinth markings and constructions were among the models for modern land artists to find inspiration and for some to emulate. Labyrinths have also been exhibited in galleries and created as non-land art, artistic installations. The research outlined in this paper focuses on labyrinth design and facilitation as a creative practice and attention to details that can help to ensure the greatest potential for a beneficial labyrinth experience. Information was gathered through the design and creation of ephemeral, temporary, and permanent labyrinth installations, internet and library research, informal interviews with owners, builders, and fellow labyrinth visitors, and visits to and documentation of over 50 permanent labyrinth sites in New England.

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Labyrinths of New England 1

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Labyrinths of New England 2

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Labyrinths of New England 3

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Garden Labyrinth, Unity ME

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Temporary Labyrinth, Belfast ME

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Painted Labyrinth, Belfast ME

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Labyrinth Designs