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Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Patricia Leavy, PhD is an independent scholar and bestselling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chair of Sociology & Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. She has published over twenty-five books, earning commercial and critical success in both nonfiction and fiction, and her work has been translated into numerous languages. She is internationally recognized as a leader in arts-based research and research methodology. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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« Land art, Landscape, and the Environment | Main | Goals of Community Meet-ups »

October 07, 2016

Exploring Land Art

From: Annie Burbidge Ream

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Imagine standing in these landscapes. What smells would be in the air? What noises would float around you? How would the air feel on your cheek?

As you look at both Spiral Jetty (Robert Smithson, 1970) and Sun Tunnels (Nancy Holt 1973-1976) what is the same and what is different about these works of art? How would you interact with them if you were at these sites?

As discussed in the previous post, Land art explores the landscape in a variety of ways and can be made on or into the land. Did you know that you are supposed to walk-on and interact with Land art?

Spiral Jetty is built out of basalt rocks gathered from its site, Rozel Point, in the north arm of Great Salt Lake. The 15-foot-wide jetty spirals 1500 feet into the lakebed. Sun Tunnels consists of four large concrete cylinders arranged in an X pattern on Utah’s west desert floor that aligns with the sunrise and sunset during the summer and winter solstices. Each of the cylinders is pierced with smaller holes representing the stars of four constellations: Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn.

People travel from around the world to experience Utah’s Land art. Once in Utah, the journey consists of long highways, twisting dirt roads, industrial spaces, historical sites, and the vast unknown. Both sites are hours away from Salt Lake City and the journey is crucial to experiencing them. It’s not just about clambering on top of Spiral Jetty, or peaking through Sun Tunnels. The real magic of experiencing this art form begins when you step into your car to embark on an adventure into the wilds of the West.

Each year the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) host Community Meet-ups at both Spiral Jetty and Sun Tunnels with the goals to provide access to these artworks; promote engagement and education to all ages and backgrounds; deliver experiential and exploratory experiences; and most importantly to have fun exploring Land art in Utah!

On April 30, 2016 we launched our first meet-up at Sun Tunnels. Although it was a stormy day, over 75 people had fun in the rain experiencing this amazing place through discussions, art-making, and performances.

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Last weekend on October 1 2016, the UMFA hosted over 250 people at Spiral Jetty. This is the third annual community meet-up at this site and the day included short lectures about the art and science of the site, art-making workshops (spirographs and salt-water landscape painting), writing and sketching tours of the landscape, science stations (exploring salt, minerals, and microbes of the lake), and musical performances.

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Over the past three years that we have been planning community meet-ups at these sites, we have seen the interest and attendance of Utah’s community continue to grow. There is nothing more thrilling to a museum educator like myself than to see people having conversations, making art, going on an adventure, and creating memories around such amazing works of art! Check back later this week when I will post some of the activities we developed for UMFA’s community meet-ups. Until then, happy adventuring!



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