Exposition Art Blog: Sun Tunnels Nancy Holt

Sun Tunnels Nancy Holt

Nancy Holt (April 5, 1938 – February 8, 2014) was an American artist most known for her public sculpture, installation art and land art. Throughout her career, Holt also produced works in other media, including film, photography, and writing books and articles about art.Nancy Holt was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. An only child, she spent a great deal of her childhood in New Jersey, where her father worked as a chemical engineer and her mother was a homemaker. She studied biology at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Three years after graduating, she married fellow environmental artist Robert Smithson in 1963.
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
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.

 The tunnels not only provide a much-needed shelter from the sweltering desert sun, but once inside the dazzling effect of the play of light within the tunnels can be seen. The top of each tunnel has small holes, forming on each, the constellations of Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn, respectively. The diameters of the holes differ in relation to the magnitude of the stars represented. These holes cast spots of daylight in the dark interiors of the tunnels, which appear almost like stars. Holt said of the tunnels, "It’s an inversion of the sky/ground relationship-bringing the sky down to the earth."[9] This is a common theme in Holt’s work. She sometimes created this relationship with reflecting pools and shadow patterns marked on the ground, like in her work Star Crossed..Wikipedia

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