Resembling an enlarged rusty screw with threaded edges that draw concentric rings into the sand with each rotation, Harrow—by its very name—alludes to a disc harrow, a farm implement used to till soil where crops are planted. Likewise, the sculpture’s revolution recalls earth’s daily orbit around the sun, tracking time through movement in space. Harrow’s movement is nearly imperceptible—only with prolonged engagement are we made aware of the sculpture’s progress. Surrounding the motorized cone and its circular, sandy track, Glatt installed seating as a way to transform the sculpture into an experience to behold and to slow viewers down to spend time with it. Glatt collaborated with her husband, metal craftsman James Cinquemani, to design and produce the mechanical elements of Harrow, which comprises a motor with 1/40th of a horsepower—producing enough energy to light a 40-watt bulb—with three built-in safety mechanisms to stop the work from moving if there is something in its path. Glatt credits Cinquemani as the one who encouraged her to take the idea of a moving or kinetic sculpture from a drawing on paper to reality.
The A.H. Belo Corporation, the media company that owns The Dallas Morning News and, at the time, also owned WFAA-TV, Channel 8, developed Lubben Park and Plaza in 1986 on the occasion of the corporation’s sesquicentennial celebration. As part of the plaza development, the corporation commissioned Glatt and Houston-based sculptor George Smith to make outdoor sculptures to be installed in a former parking lot turned public park (the park and plaza were gifted to the City of Dallas in 1986, the time of commemoration; a third commission of a work by Jesús Bautista Moroles was installed in 1994). Glatt recalls fondly that the commission came with little bureaucratic oversight; each artist was encouraged to think expansively about what he or she might propose. Proposals were reviewed by a team comprising Robert Decherd, Belo Corporation president and CEO; Judith Segura curator of the corporation’s art collection; and longtime Dallas art dealer and gallerist Murray Smither, who then worked with the artist to determine which proposal he or she was most interested in developing. The artist was asked to respond to the setting where the sculpture would be installed and encouraged to spend time in the area to get a sense of place. Glatt went a step further to link the commission and sculpture conceptually: In addition to referencing the cyclical nature of life, Harrow likewise alludes to the news cycle and the daily printing of the newspaper.
The idea of prolonged engagement is at the heart of Glatt’s many public sculpture projects. The artist is concerned with creating a sense of place and involving the viewer in her work as a participant, rather than circumambulating from the outside. Glatt has a history of what she calls “placemaking”—creating situations that lend permanence to a site and establish places for herself and others to experience her sculpture:
I am interested in the idea of placemaking, of which this [Harrow] is my most obvious manifestation. Of my works, Harrow is the most active and on the contrary, the most serene and contemplative. The repetition and the constancy of the bands of the cone drawing in the sand symbolize for me the cyclical nature of life and the balancing of life’s events. The gesture is meant to embrace, to settle, and to provoke thought. As with my previous pieces, Harrow implies a human presence and dialogue.
Glatt began making architecturally inspired enclosures in 1980 with works that evolved from a hut, to an archway, to cylindrical enclosures that contained seating for two. By 1982, the artist was ready to create a more permanent sculpture directly in the landscape. Leveraging funds awarded to her by the Dallas Museum of Art’s Anne Giles Kimbrough Fund, Glatt created her first site-specific sculpture on the grounds of Richland College in North Dallas. Titled A Place to Gather, the work formally resembles one of Donald Judd’s 15 untitled works in concrete (1980–1984), or the geometry of Richard Fleischner’s Courtyard Project for the Dallas Museum of Art (1981–1983), or the public sculptures of Scott Burton. Two parallel walls measuring eight feet high and 20 feet across enclose a space that contains two benches on opposite ends. Four-foot-tall openings in either wall suggest doorways, thresholds, or windows and while there is no roof to this dwelling, sitting inside it one feels protected, and yet completely within nature. Glatt purposely sited the work apart from the core of the campus activity between two parallel earthen berms that serve an environmental function to the sculpture, effectively completing the open ends of the “room” she built. As she would do with Harrow a decade later, Glatt focused on creating a place for gathering, meditation, contemplation, and reflection when she made A Place to Gather.
In the 35 years since Glatt’s first work of site-specific sculpture in 1982, she has been involved in numerous public commissions, notably in Phoenix, where she and Vermont-based artist Michael Singer transformed a nondescript municipal recycling center into a civic building in the development of the Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center—a project that became a model for public art projects for the way it incorporated artists in the planning from the very beginning through its final stages. The project required a 10-year commitment from the artists, which Glatt felt removed her from focusing on her own work. At a certain point, she decided to stop taking commissions for public works and instead returned to the solitude of her studio practice, where she determines the rate at which each work progresses.
In recent years, Glatt also shifted from working primarily on sculpture to drawing with fabric. Glatt’s 2018 solo exhibition at the Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas showcased her recent fabric drawings, which the artist connects to the landscape of her home state of North Dakota. Abstract and minimal, the drawings are the result of the artist’s interests in progressions, evolutions, and the passage of time. Though very different in scale, medium, and material, there is a through line connecting Glatt’s Harrow with her recent work: the idea of placemaking—just as Harrow creates a place in a plaza in Downtown Dallas, so too do her drawings create a place, an evocation of her native landscape. One also feels the connection between time and meditation. As one views her fabric drawings, one is filled with a sense of Zen-like calm. Likewise, seated in front of Harrow, the environment shifts subtly: The noise of the city is muffled by the walls enclosing the sculpture, light diffuses through the shade trees, and one is able to relax and focus on the almost imperceptible movement of the great conical sculpture slowly retracing the lines it made in the sand.