Artists can also construct their assemblages or installations outside of the traditional museum/gallery environment. When artists aesthetically arrange their media within the natural environment, the result is termed an “earthwork” The most famous American example is Robert Smithson’s Sprial Jetty. 1970.



Smithson wrote that he was interested in this site at the shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, due to the natural materials – gravel, sand, and water. He literally rearranged the local materials into an abstract design element, a spiraling, organic line. The viewer was not only invited to enter into the constructed domain (literally walk out onto that jetty), but also investigate the physical relationships of the media and contemplate the juxtaposition of the man-made installation with the pristine beauty of the surrounding nature. Over time the jetty has been reclaimed by nature. Currently, it is impossible to walk onto it for the surface now lies more than a foot underwater. Like Hamilton’s installation, this sculptural creation had limited duration but challenged viewers to think differently about an environment or locale they had ignored.

From the few examples illustrated in this module, it is evident that there is a diversity of materials and techniques available to sculptors. Statues can be welded, riveted or assembled, motorized, or electrified. Materials can include wood, steel, stone, copper, lucite, vegetation, concrete, and even be painted if the artist wanted to further the illusion of naturalism or distract from it. Sculptures can be located in a variety of sites and ever moving or changing.