Groundswell Symposium

Women of Land Art

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 1 / September 23, 2023

Moderator: Leigh A. Arnold, Associate Curator, Nasher Sculpture Center

Part I: Scholarly Presentations

Jenni Sorkin, Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara
"Structured Power"

Anna Lovatt, Associate Professor of Art History, Southern Methodist University
"Only Connect: Art, Feminism,  and Ecology in the 1980s"

Scout Hutchinson, Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art
"Out of Place: Indigenous Resistance, Cultural Appropriation, and Land Art Histories"

Jana La Brasca, Researcher, Nasher Sculpture Center, and PhD Candidate in Art History, The University of Texas at Austin
"The Paradox of Permanence"

Part II: Artist Roundtable

Lita Albuquerque, Exhibition Artist
Alice Aycock, Exhibition Artist
Patricia Johanson, Exhibition Artist
Mary Miss, Exhibition Artist
Jody Pinto, Exhibition Artist

Day 2 / September 24, 2023


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
"Public Art, Land Art, Public Art"

Part II: Conversation

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

Participant Biographies

Lita Albuquerque was raised in Tunisia, France, Switzerland, and the United States. Since her first solo exhibition in 1974, she has created site-specific performances, sculpture, drawings, prints, paintings, films, and poetry in locations across the globe. In 1978, she began using powdered pig­ment to make ephemeral works outdoors, such as Malibu Line and Moon Shadow (both 1978), and Man and the Mountain II (1979). She went on to develop this practice for further installa­tions (Rock and Pigment, 1978; Materia Prima, 1979; The Horizon Is the Place That Maintains Memory, 1981) and outdoor interventions at the Washington Monument (Washington Monument Project: The Red Pyramid, 1980), the Great Pyramids at Giza (Sol Star, 1996), and the North and South Poles (Stellar Axis, 2006–8). Examples of her public art can be found at Los Angeles City Hall, Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown L.A., the State Capitol Mall in Sacramento, and elsewhere. She has taught at Cal State L.A., Otis Parsons School of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, and ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. The recipient of several NEA grants and other honors, Albuquerque was named a Distinguished Woman in the Arts by the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles in 2013.

Leigh A. Arnold is associate curator at the Nasher Sculpture Center and a scholar of Land art and Minimal and Post-M minimal sculpture. In 2019, she curated Elmgreen & Dragset: Sculptures, the first major US museum exhibition of work by the artist duo, and The Four Fs: Family, Finance, Faith, and Friends, the first solo exhibition in North America featuring the French sound artist Anne Le Troter and her first work in the English language. In 2022, Arnold curated Lynda Benglis, featuring new and recent work by the artist, as well as the exhibition Matthew Ronay: The Crack, the Swell, an Earth, an Ode. Arnold, who holds a PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas, has also published on the work of Robert Smithson.

Across sculpture, earthworks, installation, and public art, Alice Aycock has exhibited steadily since her first shows in 1971. In early built projects such as Stairs (These Stairs Can Be Climbed) (1974) and Project for a Simple Network of Underground Wells and Tunnels (1975/2011), Aycock turned rationalizing vocabularies of archi­tecture against themselves to generate spatially paradoxical situations. By 1976, she began to conceptualize groups of multiple, heterogeneous structures and imaginary cities, detailed in her artist book Project Entitled “The Beginnings of a Complex . . .” (1976–77): Notes, Drawings, Photographs (following documenta 6), and drawings such as Project Entitled “I Have Tried to Imagine the Kind of City You and I Could Live in as King and Queen”—Isometric View (1987). Since the 1990s, Aycock has become increasingly involved in permanent com­missions around the world, including East River Park Pavilion, New York (1995/2014), San Francisco Public Library (1996) in col­laboration with Pei Cobb Freed, Down-town Nashville (2008), Pier 27, Toronto (2017, 2021), MGMNational Harbor, Maryland (2016), and McNay Art Museum, San Antonio (2023), and at international airports such as New York’s JFK, Washington-Dulles, and Des Moines. In 2014, Aycock took over a series of traffic islands in Manhattan for the installation Park Avenue Paper Chase. In the summer of 2020, six sculptures were installed in an outdoor solo exhibi­tion at the Royal Djurgården, Stockholm.

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.

Scout Hutchinson is based in Brooklyn, New York (Lenapehoking). In 2021, she was an inaugural research fellow with Holt/Smithson Foundation, focusing on Nancy Holt’s Artpark installation Hydra’s Head in relation to the history of the nearby Niagara Power Project and its flooding of the Tuscarora Reservation. She has contributed to exhibition and research projects at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Hauser & Wirth Institute, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, among others. She holds an MA in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

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.

Jana La Brasca is a curatorial researcher at the Nasher Sculpture Center and a doctoral candidate in art history at the University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation, an extended case study of Alice Aycock’s early work, draws on the artist’s studio archive and leverages a theoretical framework focused on matters of scale. She co-organized Without Limits: Helen Frankenthaler, Abstraction, and the Language of Print and contributed to After Michelangelo, Past Picasso: Leo Steinberg’s Library of Prints at the Blanton Museum of Art. Previously, she was the catalogue raisonné research fellow at Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas, and New York.

Anna Lovatt is associate professor of art history at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Her work focuses on art of the 1960s and its legacies, particularly the role of drawing in Conceptual art, Land art, Minimalism, Post-M minimalism, and video art. Lovatt is the author of Drawing Degree Zero: The Line from Minimal to Conceptual Art (Penn State University Press, 2019), and the editor of Michelle Stuart: Drawn from Nature (Hatje Cantz, 2013). Her scholarly articles have been published in Afterall, Art Journal, Art History, Grey Room, Journal of the History of Collections, October, Tate Papers, and Word and Image. In spring 2022, she was the inaugural research fellow at the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, where she developed her current project on drawing and video art, “Lines of Resolution: Drawing and the Small Screen.”

Walking is at the core of the practice of New York–born artist Mary Miss. Miss’s early works initiated a career-long investigation into “how the relationship between our built environment and the natural world could be reconfigured, rede­fined and exposed.” She soon fell in with feminist groups in the New York art world, such as Women Artists in Revolution and the Heresies Collective, participating in early protests at the Whitney Museum of American Art demanding greater representation for women artists in their annual exhibitions. From the 1970s to the present day, Miss has created sculpture, installations, films, drawings, and public artworks that reject monolithic monumentality in favor of permeability, accumulation, and, increas­ingly, social practice. Based on the belief that artists can offer vital and unique per­spectives on civic and environmental issues, Miss established the nonprofit organization City as Living Laboratory in 2009. Since her first permanent commis­sion, Field Rotation (1980–81), constructed at Governors State University in Illinois, she has created numerous pub­lic art installations around the United States and abroad. In collaboration with the architects Stanton Eckstut and Susan Child, she created South Cove (1984–87), with lighting, plantings, and a series of platforms that offer visitors shift­ing views of the Hudson River. Among many other honors, Miss was recognized with a Bedrock of New York City award in 2017.

Jody Pinto began her career in Philadelphia in the late 1960s. Pinto’s work is animated by the dia­logue between body and land, particularly their shared capacities to sustain and heal from trauma. In 1972, she founded Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), the nation’s first rape crisis center. As part of her 1975 residency at Artpark in western New York, Pinto made sculptures out of paper, cotton, and cedar poles titled Black Ovals. When it rained, they were destroyed, an experi­ence she used to generate Bleed Pockets (1975), canvas-wrapped packets of hay containing deposits of red earth that would appear to bleed in the rain. In 1987, Pinto completed her first perma­nent public commission, Fingerspan, in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Since then, she has been involved in over 50 award-winning land­scape projects, including bridges, gardens, and public art master plans. Among these are Tree of Life / City Boundary (1992) at Papago Park, Phoenix; the redesign of Santa Monica State Beach and Palisade Park, in Los Angeles (2001); light installa­tions at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport (2002) and in Charlotte, North Carolina (2009); and Land Buoy (2014) on the Delaware River, in Philadelphia. In 2021, she completed work on the Rio del Rey Bridge in Phoenix, Arizona, a community-centered project offering passage over a freeway for children walking to school.

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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