Robert Morris Earthwork honored as part of Landslide 2014

Robert Morris Earthwork, Johnson Pit #30, 1979. Photo © Spike Mafford 2009.
Robert Morris Earthwork, Johnson Pit #30, 1979. Photo © Spike Mafford 2009.
Robert Morris Earthwork,  Johnson Pit #30, 1979. Photo ©  Spike Mafford 2009.
Robert Morris Earthwork, Johnson Pit #30, 1979. Photo © Spike Mafford 20

Cultural Landscape Foundation honors Robert Morris Earthwork as part of Landslide 2014: Art and the Landscape

Robert Morris’ 1979 land reclamation artwork, Johnson Pit #30 has been recognized by The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) through their Landslide 2014: Art and Landscape program as one of eleven notable land-based artworks worthy of attention, restoration or rescuing.

One of the first publicly funded earthworks in the country, the Robert Morris Earthwork was commissioned as a result of “Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture”, a symposium held in King County that also resulted in the Mill Creek Canyon Earthwork in Kent, designed by Herbert Bayer. Morris was selected to work on a 3.7-acre site, a sand and gravel pit abandoned in the 1940’s. The creation of this artwork returned the land to active use.

Johnson Pit #30 was funded by a unique consortium of the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Endowment for the Arts, King County Department of Public Works, and the U.S. Bureau of Mines – the last of which had never before funded the creation of a piece of artwork. King County Arts Commission, the forerunner of 4Culture, oversaw its construction. Cleared of all of the undergrowth and trees, the 3.7 acre site was terraced and then planted with rye grass.

At the time of its creation, Johnson Pit #30 looked out on a sparsely developed Kent Valley cultivated for small farming. Its open, contemplative site has since been encroached upon by housing development, with agriculture in the Kent Valley replaced by industrial development.

The earthwork remains one of the most important artworks in the King County Public Art Collection and we are proud of its international importance, as well as the value it has to our own community as a gathering space, public artwork and destination. Visit the site and experience this unique public artwork.

How You Can Help Preserve This Important King County Heritage Site

Restoration: The anticipated cost of restoration $50,000 – $75,000 dollars. King County has allocated $20,000 of this amount, but additional funding is needed. Funding will be used to begin restoration and address vandalism at the site by installing improved signage, lighting and trash receptacles.

Landmark Designation: In order to secure the preservation of the earthwork and to open up possible additional funding sources for its restoration, 4Culture is submitting an application for designation as a King County Landmark, and listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Nomination research and preparation is estimated to be between at $3,000 – $5,000.

4Culture welcomes donations and support for this groundbreaking artwork. Visit the project page to donate and to sign up for email updates on the progress of restoration and landmarking efforts.

To learn about and support the efforts of the Cultural Landscape Foundation and Landslide 2014: Art and the Landscape visit their website.