Holt began her artistic career as a photographer and as a video artist. In 1974, she collaborated with fellow artist Richard Serra on Boomerang, in which he videotaped her listening to her own voice echoing back into a pair of headphones after a time lag, as she described the disorienting experience.
Her involvement with photography and camera optics are thought to have influenced her later earthworks, which are “literally seeing devices, fixed points for tracking the positions of the sun, earth and stars.” Today Holt is most widely known for her large-scale environmental works, Sun Tunnels and Dark Star Park. However, she created site and time-specific environmental works in public places all over the world. Holt contributed to various publications, which have featured both her written articles and photographs. She also authored several books. Holt received five National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, New York Creative Artist Fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Holt along with Beverly Pepper was a recipient of the International Sculpture Center's 2013 Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. From 1995 to 2013, she worked and resided in Galisteo, New Mexico.
Sun Tunnels is located in the Great Basin Desert outside of the ghost town of Lucin, Utah at 41.303501°N 113.863831°W. The work is a product of Holt’s interest in the great variation of intensity of the sun in the desert compared to the sun in the city.Holt searched for and found a site which was remote and empty.
"It is a very desolate area, but it is totally accessible, and it can be easily visited, making Sun Tunnels more accessible really than art in museums . . . A work like Sun Tunnels is always accessible . . . Eventually, as many people will see Sun Tunnels as would see many works in a city - in a museum anyway."
The work consists of four massive concrete tunnels (18 feet long and nine feet in diameter), which are arranged in an “X” configuration to total a length of 86 feet (26 m). Each tunnel reacts to the sun differently, aligned with the sunrise, sunset, of the summer or winter solstice. Someone visiting the site would see the tunnels immediately with their contrast to the fairly undifferentiated desert landscape. Approaching the work, which can be seen one to one-and-a-half miles away, the viewer’s perception of space is questioned as the tunnels change views as a product of their landscape.