Go See Weird Art

Go see weird art…

A few years ago, a friend told me about a building in SoHo where an artist filled an apartment  two feet deep with dirt. It’s been there since the 1970’s and anyone can go and see it…for free.

I was immediately intrigued. Why maintain an art installation like this for over 40 years? What does it  look like? Is it boring? Who goes to see it? Why would anyone want to go see it? Is anything growing in it? Is it gross? How can dirt be in a building for 40 years and not rot out the floor that supports it? So many questions!

So…I finally went to see it a couple of weeks ago. Was it weird? Yes. But it was also wonderful!

The New York Earth Room was created by Walter de Maria in 1977. De Maria is best known as a land artist. This piece is an interior land sculpture and considered to be a masterpiece of conceptual art.

If you walk around SoHo, you will easily miss the Earth Room because it’s only listed on a tiny plaque next to the entrance door. You need to be buzzed in to enter and there are small signs indicating the staircase you need to enter to walk up one flight to the art installation.

You smell and feel the work before you even see it. The moment you enter the staircase, you feel the humidity and smell of the earth. It smells amazing, like earth thawing in the spring.

You can only view the work from one vantage point. The dirt is perfectly smooth and raked evenly. It reminded me of a zen garden. The scale is very large. It fills the entire floor up to the windowsills and is lit from the north and south facing windows. The walls are a pristine white with no discernible mold or mildew.  The contrast of the white walls against the black earth felt balanced and true.

Later, when I was describing it to a friend who is a gardener, she wondered if it felt like I was looking at a freshly plowed field? That is when I realized that she was on the right path. When I prepare my garden for planting seeds, I rake and smooth the earth in the same way the Earth Room is prepared. After prepping my garden, I always step away and admire the smoothed earth before planting my seeds.

To me, the Earth Room is about possibility. It’s about the potential for life. It’s about sowing seeds for the future.

So, go see weird art. You never know where it will take you!


You can see Laura Morrison’s art at LauraMorrisonArt.com