Last week, the Utah Senate and House of Representatives declared Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty the state’s official artwork. A nod to Utah’s rich anthropological history, the state also honors the ancient medium of rock art.
Land Art paradigm and treasured masterpiece Spiral Jetty (1970) is a 1,500-foot-long coil symbol sculpted into the Rozel Point peninsula of Utah’s Great Salt Lake. State lawmakers have spearheaded an unprecedented effort to make Smithson’s magnum opus Utah’s official state artwork, and on March 10, 2017, the Senate voted 23 to 3.
Comprised of over 6,000 tons of mud, salt, and rocks, Spiral Jetty is sculpted into a part of the Great Salt Lake inhabited by microorganisms that give the surrounding water a warm, reddish hue. To Smithson, this extraordinary site was reminiscent of the primordial sea.
Representative Becky Edwards, who sponsored the bill proposing Spiral Jetty as an official state artwork, noted that Smithson’s installation “is internationally recognized as one of the top ten land art features in the entire world,” reported the Salt Lake Tribune.
Two days before the Senate voted on Spiral Jetty, the House voted 57 to 12 to officially recognize the ancient medium of rock art. House sponsor of the rock art bill, Representative Christine Watkins, pointed out that Utah is home to some of the United States’ oldest works of Land Art, with depictions up to 12,500 years old. “This alone makes Utah one of the most important rock art theaters in the Western hemisphere,” she says.
“Minor amendments in the Senate on HB211 require a concurring vote in the House before both bills go to Governor Gary Herbert,” reports Artnet News.