Land Arts of the American West

Land Arts of the American West is a studio-based field program[1] that seeks to construct an expanded definition of land art through direct experience connecting the full range of human interventions in the landscape—from pre-contact indigenous to contemporary practice. Land art includes everything from constructing a road, to taking a walk, building a monument, and leaving a mark in the sand. The program seeks to expand upon connections between typically separate fields. Each fall we spend two months camping while traveling 7,000 miles to engage sites that range from the CLUI complex at Wendover, Utah to the pottery culture at Mata Ortiz, Mexico, from earth works like Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty to archeological sites like Chaco Canyon. We learn from the fact that Donald Judd surrounded himself with both contemporary sculpture and Navajo rugs; that Chaco Canyon and Roden Crater function as celestial instruments; and that the Very Large Array is a scientific research center with a powerful aesthetic presence on the land. We spend the semester living and working in the landscape with guest scholars that expand the range of our definition in disciplines including archeology, art history, architecture, ceramics, criticism, writing, design, and studio art. The immersive nature of how we experience the landscape triggers an amalgamated body of inquiry where students have the opportunity of time and space to develop authority in their work through direct action and reflection. Land Arts hinges on the primacy of first person experience and the realization that human-land relationships are rarely singular.

Land Arts of the American West started at the University of New Mexico by artist Bill Gilbert in 2000 and developed as a collaboration between Gilbert and architect Chris Taylor since 2001. From 2002-2008 Land Arts was co-sponsored by the University of New Mexico and the University of Texas at Austin where Taylor taught in the interdisciplinary design program of the Department of Art and Art History. In 2007 Taylor was invited by Incubo to bring together a group of students and professionals from Chile and the United States for a symposium in Santiago and a Land Arts exploration of the Atacama Desert. In 2008 Taylor began teaching in the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University where Land Arts continues to develop in addition to the programming at the University of New Mexico. The program now operates autonomously from both institutions. Operational funding for Land Arts of the American West is provided in part by Lannan Foundation and Andrea Nasher.

The book Land Arts of the American West documents the history and development of the program was published by the University of Texas Press in April 2009.

Program Directors

Sites Visited

Past field guests

Past field guests include Nick Abdalla, Tori Arpad, Joe Arredondo - director of Landmark Arts at Texas Tech, Steve Badgett, Charles Bowden, Penelope Boyer, Jerry Brody, Chris Calott, Matt Coolidge, Rick Dingus, Intrepid Potash Russ Draper, Sam Douglas. Boyd Elder, Clifton Ellis, Urs Peter Flueckiger, Curtis Francisco, William L. Fox, Hector Gallegos, Mary Lewis Garcia, Joel Glanzberg, David Gregor, Amy Hauft, Joan Jonas, Erik Knutzen, Eve Andree Laramee, Lucy Lippard, Barry Lopez, Graciella Martinez, Susannah Mira, Onézieme Mouton, John Poch, Rob Ray, Lea Rekow, Ann Reynolds, Jack Risley, Lori Ryker, Jack Sanders, Michael Scialdone, Kathleen Shields, Susan Spring, John Stokes, Marianne Stockebrand, Deborah Stratman, Simone Swan, Mary Tsiongas, Henry Walt, Blaine Young, and Joe Zuni.


  1. Kennedy, Randy (May 3, 2011). "The American West as Classroom, Art and Metaphor". New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2012.

External links

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