Land Art: Clay People at Jacobsburg

In May of 2010, Christopher Minnich and I created hundreds of eight-inch tall clay figures along the Bushkill Creek at Jacobsburg State Park in Pennsylvania. After creating the clay figures, we left them to take-on a life of their own.

Returning the next day we discovered that all of the clay people had been violently destroyed. Children’s sized sneaker prints squashed the tiny figures back into the clay soil from which they were formed. Some were aggressively thrown against the slate rock face of the stream banks. Others were smashed with large rocks carried from the nearby stream.

Land art is a process of coming into contact with the environment and with others through the making of visual, performative, or material art with found objects in the environment. Once the process has taken place, the art is left to have a life of its own in the environment within which it was created. This land art project was inspired by an installation piece called Field by my teacher, Antony Gormley.

Antony Gormley, Field.

It is difficult to know exactly how this land art affected the people who destroyed it. The fate of the land art through aggression is part of the art itself. The people who destroyed it became artists in this project by engaging with the art objects, feeling something, thinking something, and then acting on those feelings and thoughts.