Star Crossed, Ohio

In 1979, Nancy Holt was commissioned to do two works on the grounds of Miami University in Ohio, a piece called Polar Circle, and this piece called Star-Crossed. Polar Circle was destroyed not long afterwards, apparently by accident, by the University grounds crew. Star-Crossed has survived, but is in a degraded state, and is officially closed (as a sign next to the sculpture indicates). The piece is made primarily of earth, originally mounded to a height of 14 feet, covering two concrete tubes, one aligned north-south and the other east-west, held in place by a buried steel frame. Until recently, the grounds crew of the University has been attempting to maintain it as part of the landscaping of the property, and it has not been treated as an artwork with special conservatorial needs. Some years ago, due to insufficient irrigation, the grass covering died, and the soil, thus exposed to erosion, slowly slumped down the steep slopes. The sculpture was rebuilt, but with the existing clay subsoil mixed into the topsoil, making for a less resilient form. Efforts to preserve the piece are said to be moving forward, under a new director at the art museum.