Anna TalaricoAn interview with Brian Harnetty and Mary Lucier, 2021
In 1970, artist Robert Smithson created Partially Buried Woodshed on the campus of Kent State University, covering an abandoned woodshed with soil until its central beam cracked. Unsettling traditional notions of landscape and environmental art, Smithson’s project also addressed a connection to Ohio’s Indigenous earthworks, many of which were destroyed—or willfully overlooked—by white settlers during the Frontier Era.
In the decades since, artists have continued to approach Ohio’s landscape as a site and a subject, challenging the conventional representations of the state’s history and cultural legacy. Gathering works from a diverse group of artists, Partially Buried: Land-Based Art in Ohio, 1970 to Now—an exhibition on view now through November 28, 2021 at the Columbus Museum of Art—grapples with the state’s history as a former frontier territory, confronting unanswered questions around land use, interpretation, preservation, and representation.
Curator Anna Talarico spoke with Brian Harnetty and Mary Lucier, the exhibition’s two Ohio-born artists. Partially Buried: Land-Based Art in Ohio, 1970 to Now features Harnetty’s sound installation Forest Listening Rooms (2018-present), and Lucier’s video, Ohio to Giverny: Memory of Light (1983). The artists reflect on how Ohio has loomed large in their practices and their intersections with environmental and social justice. The conversation that follows has been edited for clarity.