Robert Morris Earthwork Listed in the Washington Heritage Register

Robert Morris’ celebrated Untitled Earthwork (Johnson Pit #30), one of the first ever publicly-funded Land Art projects, is now listed in the Washington Heritage Register.

This honorary designation brings the site one step closer to precedent-setting inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, potentially paving the way for other earthworks in need of protection.

The intensive nomination process was led by Rich Freitas, Historical Landscape Architect at the National Park Service, and Kasia Keeley, Associate Designer at Mithun, alongside 4Culture staff Dana Phelan, Kelly Pajek, and Jordan Howland. Numerous art and design professionals, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, and State Architectural Historian Michael Houser lent support as well.

Robert Morris (1931-2018). Untitled Earthwork (Johnson Pit #30), 1979. SeaTac, WA. King County Public Art Collection. Photo: Colleen Chartier

Inspired by early efforts to use art as a means for rehabilitating abused post-industrial sites, 4Culture‚ then known as the King County Arts Commission‚ sponsored an innovative symposium called Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture in 1979.

The Commission brought together a unique team of government agencies and artists to discuss the potential of earthworks—large-scale sculptures that use the earth itself as their medium—and to create historic public artworks designed to restore natural areas damaged by industry.

Robert Morris received the first demonstration project commission. He removed undergrowth from an abandoned 3.7-acre gravel pit in the Kent Valley, terraced the earth, and planted it with rye grass, in effect returning the land to active use. Decades later, the destination continues to serve as a community gathering place.

Robert Morris (1931-2018). Untitled Earthwork (Johnson Pit #30), 1979. SeaTac, WA. King County Public Art Collection. Photo: Joe Freeman

You can learn more about Morris and Johnson Pit #30 on our website and visit from dawn to dusk 7 days per week.