Land Art & Related Practices Road Trip Recap

Nov. 26, 2018

Art 495/695 Land Art & Related Practices used a CFA Team Travel grant to take a 3-day road trip to see important works of Land Art in Utah from November 16 through November 18.  

The trip started with Robert Smithson’s 1969-70 “Spiral Jetty” on the Great Salt Lake, visited Golden Spike National Historic Site, where the transcontinental railroad joined up in 1869, then the ATK Rocket Garden nearby, then drove to Nancy Holt’s 1973-76 “Sun Tunnels” near Lucin, UT where we observed the sunset and cooked up a campfire meal. The next day the students visited the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s site at Wendover, UT on the old Wendover Air Force Base, a site for training and atomic testing in WWII.

All semester, the students have been studying relationships between land use and art since 1960 beginning with the canonical works of the Land Art movement (1960s-70s)—large sculptures or site interventions specifically located in the desert Southwest that meant to engage a visitor on the history of place, ways of seeing, and how art works outside a museum setting (Holt and Smithson’s works, as well as Michael Heizer’s “Double Negative” in Overton, NV are central here). Following that the students studied works of art in cities and across the world that built on this legacy to consider how art can shine a light on the politics of land use and personal experience. Following this trip the students will be considering how contemporary practices like public lands, tourism, development, sustainability and other processes that affect land use and landscape are being studied by artists for new works.