Texas Architect March/April 2015: Resiliency

Page 51

2002, Taylor established a joint Land Arts program with Gilbert while teaching at The University of Texas at Austin. Since 2008, Taylor has led his outfit independently at Texas Tech University (TTU). Gilbert’s program remains ongoing, as well; a reference for the collaboration’s early years is their eponymous book, published in 2009 by The University of Texas Press. Taylor’s program logs about 6,000 miles on two month-long trips. Students, between five and ten, are packed tightly into two vans — one for bodies, one for gear. The first tour moves quickly, looping up and around Utah’s Great Salt Lake before descending through Nevada and across northern Arizona and New Mexico back to Lubbock. The second, slower jaunt stays farther south, as fall temperatures drop, and typically runs through southern New Mexico and Arizona and returns via Marfa. Land Arts voyagers camp for the trip’s duration; they cook and clean together, sharpening the skills needed to survive on the road and in the backcountry. The group also works through a course reader to add context to the

outings. The surroundings and the readings together impact the students as they make responsive, site-based works. Because of the program’s open framework, the scale and scope of projects are left to each individual. Project media vary, from a series of out-of-place basketball hoops, to a deployable tetrahedronal tepee, to experiments on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Back at TTU, the “third journey” begins as students prepare finished pieces — sculptures, objects, mixed media works, photographs, videos, drawings, texts — for final reviews in December. A more formal annual exhibition is realized in the following April. Along the way, field guests join the group: Matthew Coolidge of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Lucy Lippard, Joan Jonas, Ann Reynolds, William L. Fox, Nichole Wiedemann, Barry Lopez, among others. Some experts help decode the landscape at hand, while others share their own work — sometimes projected onto the side of the van in a nocturnal lecture — and dialogue directly with students. With the program’s active schedule, Taylor summarizes his role as a choreographer, introducing

3/4 2015

Texas Architect 49