Land Art

Desert Research Station

Desert Research Station
The Desert Research Station (DRS) is an educational research facility, operated by the Center for Land Use Interpretation. It is a field station for research related to the desert regions of California, and contains displays about the area.

Untitled, Johnson Gravel Pit Number 30

Untitled, Johnson Gravel Pit Number 30
Robert Morris was commissioned to create an earthwork out of this old gravel pit in SeaTac, by the King County Arts Commission. The four acre piece was built in 1979, and overlooks the Boeing Information, Space, and Defense Center in the valley below.

Earth Art Exhibit Site

Earth Art Exhibit Site
A groundbreaking exhibit called "Earth Art" was held at the Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art at Cornell University in 1969, curated by Willoughby Sharp. Included in the exhibit were Hans Haacke, Neil Jenney, Richard Long, David Medalla, Robert Morris, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, and Gunter Uecker. Most of the works were installed inside galleries. The outdoor works included, Jan Dibbets' "A Trace in the Woods in the Form of an Angle of 30 degrees Crossing a Path," which consisted of a line of approximately 300 feet of overturned turf. The walk through the woods was part of the piece. David Medalla made a mound of muddied earth behind the museum, and Dennis Oppenheim cut ice on a river with a chainsaw. Smithson did a mirror displacement in a salt mine, and featured the site as a "nonsite" in the gallery. Apparently nothing of the outdoor works remains.

Isla de Umunnum

Isla de Umunnum
A number of outdoor pieces were built in this park by Heather McGill and John Roloff between 1986 and 1989, as part of the interpretive efforts for the then new nature preserve at Elkhorn Slough, near the Central California Coast. Isla de Umunnum is the name of the 5-acre island where the sculptures were made (Umunnum is Ohlone Indian for hummingbird). The most extensive piece is The Mound, made of layered shells, cut like a cross-section of a midden mound, and connected to a stagnant pool. The pieces are only partially maintained.

Western Washington University Outdoor Sculpture Collection

Western Washington University Outdoor Sculpture Collection
A major collection of outdoor sculpture on the campus of Western Washington University. The collection has some pieces which qualify as "land art" including Alice Aycock's 1987 "The Islands of the Rose Apple Tree Surrounded by the Oceans of the Word, for You, Oh My Darling," and Nancy Holt's 1977-1978 "Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings." Other artists in the collection include Beverly Pepper, Robert Morris, Richard Serra, Isamu Noguchi, Bruce Nauman, Tom Otterness, and Mark di Suvero.

Jamesville Quarry

Jamesville Quarry
Located in an unused corner of the massive Jamesville Quarry in upstate New York, this piece was never completed, and has been untouched since 1986. The environment surrounding the piece resembles the erosional canyons of the Southwest in form and scale, but was made instead by human hands and machines, removing the beds of limestone to make cement and aggregate. The intervening years have hardly altered the piece, as human erosion has been virtually non-existent in the restricted-access quarry. Much of the displaced rock on the fringes of the wedge-shaped sculpture is just where it was left when the last stone was moved by William Bennett, the artist who began work on it in 1976. Work slowed to occasional summer visits starting in 1979, when Bennett moved away from the area. He hopes to return to work on the piece in the future, but no longer plans to make the large inverted pyramid form, which was originally intended as the target for the alignment of the existing "wedge." Visitors were meant to walk into the piece starting at the shallow end, following the eight inch wide path (the "keel" of the wedge), for eighty or so feet to the end, at which point the visitor would be six feet under the surface level, facing a stone wall. Turning around to exit, the viewer looks straight down the wedge, outward at a distant target, like a gunsight. A kind of optical instrument, the sculpture looks both inward, into the rock, and outward, into the space of the quarry; a microscope on one end and telescope on the other.

Guadalupe River Park

Guadalupe River Park
This flood control site, built in 1989-1990, is integrated with a wildlife and recreational park, featuring earth art by George Hargreaves Associates. Also to be found there is the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, featuring 2,600 varieties of roses, as well as The Guadalupe Community Garden, which uses recycled water to meet its irrigation needs.

Sun Tunnels

Sun Tunnels
Sun Tunnels is an artwork by Nancy Holt, completed in 1976, consisting of four large concrete tubes, laid out in the desert in an open X configuration. The nine foot diameter, 18 foot-long tunnels are pierced by holes of varying size that correspond with the pattern of selected celestial constellations. There is a tunnel for Draco, Perseus, Columba and Capricorn. The tunnels line up with the rising and falling sun of the summer and winter solstices.

Art Park

Art Park
Art Park was an important development site for emerging earth artists of the 1970's. Located on reclaimed land next to the Niagara River, near Lewiston, New York, the 200-acre state park had a well supported artist-in-residence program that began in 1974. The program was initiated a year after Smithson's death by one of his longtime friends and supporters and it was with his spirit in mind that this outdoor art program on former industrial land was conceived. While some artists like Nancy Holt and Laurie Anderson preferred to work more closely to the dramatic landscape of the gorge at the south end of the property, the plateau area was used by numerous artists, including Alice Aycock, Alan Sonfist, and Dennis Oppenheim. The surface of the plateau, a former industrial spoils pile, was created as a sort of land art project itself, further filled in by Helen and Newton Harrison as part of their "Art Park Spoils Pile Reclamation" project. Most works were temporary, however, and the plateau is studded with the vestiges of removed and filled in artworks: bits of concrete, cable, rebar, and crushed stone, a veritable land art proving ground.

Pratt Farm

Pratt Farm
Pratt Farm was a private park with numerous sculpted forms composed primarily of mounded earth and arranged rocks. Around 20 distinct pieces were constructed on the 17-acre property by James Pierce, an art historian and photographer, who created them during the summers between 1970 and 1982. He called the site a "garden of history," and the subjects referenced in the forms ranged from the prehistoric, e.g., tombs and burial mounds, to more recent historical representations, including a piece called Quebec Expedition, depicting Benedict Arnold's ship in an earthen outline (the ship sailed past the site on the Kennebec River in 1775, on its way to the siege of Quebec). The large Earthwoman sculpture pictured above, was inspired by the famous Venus of Willendorf, a small Paleolithic carving of a woman, which is estimated to be over 22,000 years old. The Turf Maze also shown above, was a triangular labyrinthine form measuring 120 feet on each side, made by cutting one-foot deep furrows in the earth. It was constructed between 1972 and 1974, and was based in part on a never realized topiary maze depicted in a 17th Century book. Although he still owned the land, Pierce moved from the area in 1982, leaving his earthworks to the vagaries of both nature and the conservatorial skills of the purchaser of the Pratt farmhouse. After Pierce's death in 2010, the new owners set about clear-cutting the surrounding forest, clearing and grading the land, and planting corn; thus consigning the "garden of history," to history itself.   
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