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Robert Smithson's Partially Buried Woodshed sculpture

While not a digital projects related thread, I did want to write about something that I have always loved about this campus.

I have long been fascinated by Robert Smithson's earthwork on the Kent State campus. Smithson had been a visiting artist on campus just months before the Kent State shootings in May, 1970. My mother remembers attending one of his lectures on campus during that time, and also reflected on the years since the art work was created, saying that it was often a sore subject for the university. Shortly after the shootings, someone spray painted "May 4 Kent" along one of the beams, perhaps then creating a more political piece. There is also some speculation that the site was cleared by university grounds employees who were tired of its presence on campus. There is even a reflection of the immediate disapproval of the work in some articles in the Daily Kent Stater: Like this one, dated February 4, 1970 complaining about the piece, or another insight claiming the whole thing to be a hoax. I've always loved the art works that shake things up a bit, and get people talking about art.

I have always been intrigued with Earthworks in general- in that they take on a different life after creation. The impact of the elements and environs morph a work into something else completely. Likewise, I have always enjoyed artists like Anselm Kiefer, who believe his works have their own life cycle and history after they are created. There is no idea of permanence or giving a pretense of timelessness or eternal youth that many museums and galleries elude in the act of display and collecting.

The Communications and Marketing department recently created a short video on the piece, and in mind perhaps finally acknowledging the life cycle of such an unusual work.


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