Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970, mud, salt crystals, rock, 15' 1

Robert Smithson’s Muddy, Salty Spiral Jetty

Zelly Martin, a student at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, wrote this post.

It’s tough to get a good look at Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty as it is constantly disappearing into the Great Salt Lake of Utah. If you arrive at the right time, you’ll see a 1,500-foot long, 15-foot wide counter-clockwise spiral made of mud, salt crystals, and rock that extends into the lake from Rozel Point. Smithson built this sometimes reddish, sometimes pinkish, forever changing and transient work in order to break down the barrier between humans and their environment, an idea he was extremely interested in throughout his career. He is often called the founder or pioneer of the earthworks movement (a term he himself coined) in which artists use indigenous materials to create the work of art. Such a work of art combines sight, sounds, and even smell (apparently it’s a bit stinky).