Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) is a monumental work of Land art and a twentieth-century masterpiece. People travel from around the world to see it, but those of us who live nearby have a unique relationship to it. This year marks the artwork’s fiftieth birthday, and the UMFA is honoring our community’s special connection by collecting your stories from throughout the years to reflect on the many ways that visitors have interacted with the artwork. To kick things off, here’s a memory from UMFA executive director Gretchen Dietrich about her first visit:
When my husband, infant son, and I moved to Salt Lake City in 2003, I knew very little about our new home. But as lifelong art lovers and art professionals, we knew a lot about Spiral Jetty, the monumental earthwork artist Robert Smithson created off the north shore of Great Salt Lake. We went to see it right away. The day was hot, and the wide-open spaces of Utah were new to me. Back then the road was still rough, so we crept along in our old Honda as far as we dared, and then walked the last quarter mile or so. Spiral Jetty, underwater for many years since its creation in 1970, had only recently emerged, and our first glimpse astonished us: its black basalt rocks were completely encased in glimmering white salt, and the entire artwork literally glowed. It was beautiful and terrifying all at the same time—a perfect metaphor for our new life in Utah, which seemed so foreign and yet so beautiful and full of possibility.
The UMFA has also prepared several exhibitions about Land art to commemorate this iconic work. An exhibition interactive in 50 Years of Spiral Jetty | Smithson and Gorgoni asks visitors to share their thoughts regarding Spiral Jetty as it relates to the passing of time. Here are just a few examples:
While the Museum has had to temporarily close our doors, we are always looking for ways to connect you to great art. Find more opportunities to share art experiences on our Instagram.