Patricia Johanson (American, born 1940) Fair Park Lagoon, 1981–86, Gunite, native plants, and animal species, Dimensions variable. For the People, the Meadows Foundation, Communities Foundation of Texas, Texas Commission on the Arts and their private and corporate donations. Permanently sited in Fair Park, Dallas. © Patricia Johanson, Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Michael Barera
Groundswell: Women of Land Art
Published October 1 for AEQAI
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
On view through January 7, 2024
A couple of years ago, I unearthed a disappointing story. Between 1971 and 1990, as earthworks gave way to eco-art, twelve museums mounted exhibitions focused on eco-art, which featured artworks by a total of 238 men and 25 women, even though women actually built half of the fifty early examples of ecological earthworks. Moreover, dozens of women participated in the Land art movement, yet the very notion of women creating Land art, which typically requires heavy machinery, specialized skills, and expensive materials, still astonishes fifty years later. Thanks to Anna Mendieta’s well-publicized career, more women are known for their ecologically-oriented performance art. Seven first generation eco-artists are among the twelve artists featured in “Groundswell: Women of Land Art.” Since museums have historically ignored women’s vital contribution to this field, an exhibition focused entirely on women artists only seems fair. “Groundswell” offers a historical context for Patricia Johanson’s Fairpark Lagoon, a massive remediation project commissioned by the Dallas Museum of Art in the early 1980s to revitalize the lagoon sited three miles southeast of the Nasher Sculpture Center.
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