Using materials like earth, wind, water, fire, wood, salt, rocks, mirrors, and explosives, American artists of the 1960s began to move beyond the white cube gallery space to work directly in the land. With ties to Minimal and Conceptual art, these artists placed less emphasis on the discrete object and turned their attention to the experience of the artwork—however fleeting or permanent that might be—foregrounding natural materials and the site itself to create works that were large in scale and located outside of typical urban art world circuits.
For many years, art historical narratives of Land art have been dominated by men: Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria, Robert Morris, Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Long, and others. Groundswell: Women of Land Art, intends to shift that focus to shed new light on the vast number of Land works by women artists, whose careers ran parallel to their better-known male counterparts, yet have received less recognition and representation in museum presentations.
Groundswell features 12 artists recognized for their sustained engagement with Land art: Lita Albuquerque (American, born 1946); Alice Aycock (American, born 1946); Beverly Buchanan (American, 1940–2015); Agnes Denes (American, born Hungary, 1931); Maren Hassinger (American, born 1947); Nancy Holt (American, 1938–2014); Patricia Johanson (American, born 1940); Ana Mendieta (American, born in Cuba, 1948–1985); Mary Miss (American, born 1944); Jody Pinto (American, born 1942); Michelle Stuart (American, born 1933); and Meg Webster (American, born 1944).
Through works made from the late 1960s through 1990, Groundswell provides a broad overview of themes and artworks that are integral to understanding the history of Land art. While most scholarship on the field tends to focus on the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, broadening this time frame allows us to chart the emergence of Land art in the 1960s, its so-called decline in the 1970s, and artists’ transition from working in rural, unpopulated settings to creating Land art in urban centers with the emergence of public art programs and art parks that flourished around the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Curated by Nasher Associate Curator Dr. Leigh A. Arnold and organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center, Groundswell: Women of Land Art is accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue with a central essay by Dr. Arnold, and contributions by Scout Hutchinson, Jana La Brasca, Anna Lovatt, Jenni Sorkin, and Anne Thompson, co-published by the Nasher Sculpture Center and DelMonico Books.
Groundswell: Women of Land Art Symposium
The two-day symposium includes a scholarly presentation of significant themes explored by women in the Land art movement and a roundtable discussion on perspectives from featured artists in the exhibition on the first day. Day two explores the relationship between Land art and public art, with a special focus on Patricia Johanson's Fair Park Lagoon (1981-86).
Mary Miss on Stream Trace: Dallas Branch Crossing
As part of Groundswell: Women of Land Art, the Nasher commissioned Mary Miss for a new site-specific sculpture that follows the path of a buried stream passing beneath the museum grounds. Titled Stream Trace: Dallas Branch Crossing, the work originates within the Nasher Garden as a line of reflective X’s on stakes and extends into area neighborhoods through a series of participatory walks. Miss metaphorically “daylights’ the stream, bringing to the surface histories of Dallas, its infrastructure, and the various communities that once lived alongside the stream’s banks.
Once a month on Sunday afternoons, Dallas-based artists, writers, historians, and scientists will lead walking tours that loosely follow the original path of the Dallas Branch—a small stream that was encased in concrete and built over sometime in the early 20th-century. The Dallas Branch originates in the present-day neighborhood of Uptown, Dallas and outfalls at the Trinity River in the Design District. Participants in each walk will have the option to walk from the Nasher Sculpture Center toward the Dallas Branch's origin point or from the Nasher toward the outfall near the Trinity River. A Google map of the walking tours is available.
All Stream Trace Walks are in-person and open to the public. $5 for Members and Students. $10 for non-members. Spaces are limited. Advance registration required.
Groundswell: Women of Land Art is made possible by leading support from the Texas Commission on the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Henry Luce Foundation, The Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation, and the Jean Baptiste "Tad" Adoue, III Fund of The Dallas Foundation. Generous support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. Additional support is provided by Joanne Bober, Humanities Texas, Ann and Chris Mahowald, Leigh Rinearson, the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District (DTPID), and Susan Inglett.
Image in banner: Lita Albuquerque (American, born 1946). Spine of the Earth, 1980. Pigment, rock, and wood sundial, El Mirage Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Destroyed. © Lita Albuquerque, courtesy of the artist and Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles.