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Art HERstory: Nancy Holt

Art HERstory: Nancy Holt

Since the beginning of time man and nature have been interconnected. In our industrialized societies it may sometimes slip our minds, but whether we like it or not we affect each other. Nancy Holt (1938 -) devised a way to illustrate this inevitable connection. Her art is man-made, yet it relies on the environment to convey its entire message. Nancy extended her creative hand into sculpture, film, photography and writing. All outlets were used to expose the beauty flourishing around the chaotic modern city.

'Annual Ring' (1981)

Nancy began her art career behind the camera as a photographer and video artist. It was her interest in camera optics that led to the type of land art that gained her worldwide recognition. In Nancy’s opinion, her earthworks are “literally seeing devices, fixed points for tracking the positions of the sun, earth, and stars.” Her art is functional in that sense. She constructed sculptures with a specific environmental function in mind. It was an innovative way to take people from the cushy art galleries and out into the elements, out into the world without walls.

'Solar Rotary' (1995)

Solar Rotary is a prime example of Nancy’s art with purpose. The installation stands proudly on the University of South Florida campus and is comprised of eight 20-foot aluminum poles that converge at the sculpture’s highest point into a circle. Underneath the piece sits a circular bench. On the bench is the following: “On the day of summer solstice at solar noon between 1:31 and 1:32 PM a circle of sunlight will be cast around this circular seat.” On one day a year for one minute, the sun will fit perfectly into the centralized circular point on the sculpture.

'Sun Tunnels' (1973-6)

Not only has Nancy’s art allowed humans and nature to interact creatively, but it also has earned Nancy worldwide recognition. As a result of her sculptures and writing, she’s earned five National Endowment for the Arts scholarships, New York Creative Artist Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Despite her hiatus from art, Nancy’s pieces were featured in a retrospective exhibition held by Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery.

Nancy now lives and works in New Mexico.

Image Layout: Phaymiss

'Star Crossed' (1979-81)

'Up and Under' (1998)

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