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Isolation & Light: 1970s Land Art in the American Southwest, Jane Weissman
Sunday 29 October 2017, 14:00 - 16:00

Location : The American Library in Paris

Category : Adults

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This workshop discussion focuses on art of the American southwest:


Emerging in the late 1960s, land art was created by pioneering artists — the most well known being Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt and Walter De Maria. Rejecting traditional museums and commercial galleries, they investigated natural sites and alternative modes of artistic production. Land artists were especially attracted to the vast spaces and austere emptiness of the American Southwest, which offered an abundance of space and material far removed from the art world and urban centers. Isolation is the essence of Land Art. — Walter De Maria 


Early sculptures using natural materials like dirt, rocks, and plants evolved into process-based explorations and site-specific interventions that incorporated the surrounding environment, introducing but sometimes removing objects both natural and man-made. The land is not the setting for the work but a part of the work. — Walter De Maria  


This talk is based on the June 2017 travels of mural artist/historian/curator Jane Weissman who — covering 4,566 miles in a rented SUV through spectacular scenery and following vague directions over rocky, inhospitable roads — visited Heizer’s Double Negative (NV), Holt’s Sun Tunnels (UT), Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (UT) and De Maria’s The Lightning Field (NM). Bookending her journey were immersions into the worlds of Donald Judd in Marfa, TX and Georgia O’Keefe in Albuquerque, NM — whose esthetic concerns and artistic practices, although very different from each other, have rich affinities with the land artists. [The Southwest] is not a country of light on things. It is a country of things in light. — Georgia O'Keefe    


Using her own photographs and the words of the artists, Jane takes you on a journey to the little known/visited works (past and in-development) of these and other artists — e.g., James Turrell and Charles Ross. She discusses the development of their work, the philosophies that inform them, and their effect on the surrounding landscape.


To sign up, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The workshop is free for members; non-members may purchase a daypass the day of the workshop.



About the workshop leader

weissmanA muralist and mural historian specializing in community collaborations, Jane Weissman curated the exhibition La Lucha Continua The Struggle Continues: 1985 & 2017 (April 8 - July 31, 2017 at The Loisaida Center, NYC) and wrote/edited the exhibition’s catalog. Jane is the co-author of the cultural history On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City (University Press of Mississippi, 2009). In conjunction with its publication, she curated the traveling exhibition Images of the African Diaspora in New York City Community MuralsA participant in Humanities New York’s defunct Speakers in the Humanities and the Speakers in the Schools programs, Jane is a frequent lecturer both in the United States and abroad, focusing on New York City community murals and the Mexican murals of Los Tres Grandes (Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco). 

The administrative director of the community mural collective Artmakers, Inc. (, Jane joined the organization in 1991, serving as project director and a participating artist for several of its murals including The Federico García Lorca Murals (2011-2013) and the award-winning When Women Pursue Justice (2005). She co-curated three distinct exhibitions (2006) based on this mural and co-wrote an accompanying catalog. As director of New York City's GreenThumb (1984-1998), she commissioned 10 murals and 12 sculptures for its community gardens through its Artists in the Gardens program (1985-1991).