Groundswell: Women of Land Art Symposium

Day 2 | Fair Park
September 24, 2023 1 - 4 p.m. 9/24/2023 1:00 PM 9/24/2023 4:00 PM

In-person and open to the public. FREE with advance registration. This event will take place at Fair Park Visitor Center, 3535 Grand Avenue Dallas, TX 75210.

For many years, historical accounts of Land art have been dominated by male artists whose earthworks have shaped the movement’s definitions around monumentality, permanence, and the “blank” canvas of seemingly remote or unpopulated landscapes. Land art is all of these things, but it is not limited to them. Its reductive characterization obscures the more subtle and less intrusive gestures that typify many examples of Land art by women artists.

Groundswell: Women of Land Art features 12 artists recognized for their sustained engagement with Land art: Lita Albuquerque, Alice Aycock, Beverly Buchanan, Agnes Denes, Maren Hassinger, Nancy Holt, Patricia Johanson, Ana Mendieta, Mary Miss, Jody Pinto, Michelle Stuart, and Meg Webster.

The first day of this two-day symposium provides a scholarly presentation of significant themes explored by women in the Land art movement, as well as a roundtable discussion focused on the perspectives of artists featured in the exhibition. Day two will explore the relationship between Land art and public art, with a special focus on Patricia Johanson’s Fair Park Lagoon (1981-86). 

Day 2 

Part I: The legacy of Land art in public art
            Erika Doss, Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History Distinguished Chair in Art History at The University of Texas at Dallas

Part II: Conversation
             Patricia Johanson, Exhibition Artist
             Anne Thompson, Director and Curator, Suzanne Lemberg Usdan Gallery at Bennington College

Part III: Walking tour of Fair Park Lagoon

Participant Biographies

Erika Doss (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is a Distinguished Professor in the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her wide-ranging interests in modern and contemporary American art are reflected in the breadth of her publications, including Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (1991, which received the Charles C. Eldredge Prize), Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (1995), Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image (1999), Looking at Life Magazine (editor, 2001), The Emotional Life of Contemporary Public Memorials: Towards a Theory of Temporary Memorials (2008), Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (2010), Monumental Troubles: Rethinking What Monuments Mean Today (editor, 2018), and Spiritual Moderns: Twentieth-Century American Artists and Religion (2023). The recipient of several Fulbright awards, Doss has held fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Patricia Johanson made her first ambient installation, Color Room (1959), as an undergraduate. Throughout the ensuing decade, she continued to pursue her interest in the spatiality of color through painting, producing large canvases such as William Clark (1967), measuring over 8 feet tall and 28 feet wide, and the 2 by 1,600–foot Stephen Long (1968), consisting of conjoined strips of plywood painted red, yellow, and blue. In 1969, House & Garden magazine invited Johanson to design a garden, to which she responded with enthusiasm: following extensive research on garden history, Johanson made no fewer than 150 different proposals. Since the 1970s, Johanson’s outdoor projects have evolved in ecological and formal complexity, informed by her study of architecture and ongoing research on environmental rehabilitation. In works across the United States, such as Tidal Sculpture Garden (Pelham Bay Park, New York, 1984), Fair Park Lagoon (Dallas, 1981–86), Candlestick Park Endangered Garden (San Francisco, 1987), and The Draw at Sugar House (Salt Lake City, 2003), she merges habitat restoration, erosion and flood control, public recreation, and biomorphic forms. She has also contributed to land reclamation in parks in South Korea, Brazil, and Kenya, and is currently at work designing and implementing a 45-acre wetland habitat and restoration project for McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Anne Thompson is an artist whose curatorial practice foregrounds political critique, site specificity, and activities that move beyond institutional spaces. During 2014–17, she presented the nationally acclaimed I-70 Sign Show, which positioned the Midwestern Interstate as a public art corridor for cultural and political commentary. She currently is director and curator of the Suzanne Lemberg Usdan Gallery at Bennington College, where she serves on the visual arts faculty. She has been awarded fellowships at Epicenter, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, the Women’s Studio Workshop, and the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). Before receiving her MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale University in 2002, Thompson was a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press.

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.

Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
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