Extra Credit -Contemporary Art by Walter De Maria

      Walter De Maria- “Lightning Field

      Long term instillation in Western New Mexico, 1977

The past few weeks, I hope all of you were able to stop for a moment from studying for art history or whatever else to take a look at the night sky the few times we had lightning storms.  Walking home last night from a friend’s house, I was able to catch a few beautious (yes that is a word :) haha) bolts as they stretched across the sky, lighting up the surrounding atmosphere.  It made me think about this work by Walter De Maria in New Mexico, so I wanted to briefly talk about it in an extra credit post, and see if anyone else was fascinated by such an amazing natural element working in collaboration with a man made piece.  I feel that this artwork is in fact contemporary although it was created in the past.  This work is forever changing, and in that a new piece is presented to the public with every storm that we experience on this earth.  Here are a few of my insights if you are interested :).

 The Lightning Field has everything to do with Time Art.  Just the thought of being able to capture a picture of lightning has to do with perfect timing.  It is comprised of 400 polished stainless steel poles installed in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer.  The poles were two inches in diameter and averaged around 20 feet and 7½ inches in height.  They are spaced 220 feet apart.  The huge range of area that this piece takes up, in a way, adds time for lightning to be captured.  This piece is intended for its audience to view it over a long period of time.  Interestingly there is a building a safe distance away, where they can sit comfortably inside and watch for as long as they desire.  They are even encouraged to walk in the field when it is not storming, especially during sunrise and sunset.  So the artwork’s beauty is constantly changing against the wide-open sky in its different times of day.  I wonder if any of you have seen this piece in person.. and if you have I am extremely jealous.  I would also be interested in hearing how it made you feel!

I love the romanticism of this piece as well as the personal experience it relates to in my life.  When I was young I used to be afraid of thunderstorms.  My mom would tell me that God was simply playing bowling and he had gotten a strike when the flash of lightning appeared.  Seeing this piece makes me ponder my faith by making me feel like there is proof of God’s existence.  It portrays the heavens reaching down to the earth.  Now that I am older I love thunderstorms and the sight of lightning stretching across the sky, but it’s always hard to catch the full sight of a lightning bolt from the beginning to the end.  This piece being in a wide-open field makes it easier to catch.  I hope one day I can experience this in person!  How bout a class field trip?! haha.. Who says field trips cannot still occur in college :) ?!?!

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