Often characterized as an artist-explorer, Michelle Stuart is internationally recognized as a pioneer of land art, offering a perspective grounded in personal experience, travel, curiosity, and wonder. Stuart’s work stands apart from that of other land artists of her generation in its anti-monumentality. Rather than carving into the earth or building upon it, she adopted a philosophy of treading lightly and leaving few permanent traces in the landscape. She has spoken of trying to capture “the handwriting of nature” through site-specific works in the landscape as well as installations that combine drawings, maps, and photographs with sculptural specimens gathered from the earth. Since 2009, photography has been her primary medium. She has taken and collected photographs for nearly five decades, often altering or grouping them to evoke the passage of time and space and reflect on the land as a unique source of memory.
Stuart joins Hirshhorn assistant curator Betsy Johnson to discuss her extensive practice exploring the role that landscape and natural materials play in shaping personal and collective memory.
Michelle Stuart’s Passages: Mesa Verde (1977-79) was recently approved for acquisition into the Hirshhorn’s permanent collection by the Museum’s Board of Trustees.
Image: Stuart Archive