Information for Applicants
Please read carefully prior to completing your application.
About Land Arts
Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University is a transdisciplinary field program examining the evolutionary interaction between human actions and landscape formation. The program leverages immersive field experience as a primary pedagogic agent to support research that opens horizons of perception, probes depths of inquiry, and advances understanding of human impacts shaping environments. Land Arts attracts architects, artists, and writers from across the university and beyond to a “semester abroad in our own backyard” that travels 6,000 miles overland while camping for two months to experience major land art monuments—Double Negative, Spiral Jetty, Sun Tunnels, The Lightning Field—while also visiting other sites to expand understanding of what land art might be, such as pre-contact archeology, military and industrial facilities, and contemporary infrastructure. Throughout the travels and on campus, participants interact with a wide range of guests as they make work in response to their experiences, which are exhibited at the Museum of Texas Tech University to conclude the field season.
Please visit https://landarts.org for more information.
The primary learning and research objectives of Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University are:
- To provide significant periods of time in diverse landscapes for participants to make work examining broad ranges of human interaction with Earth in the evolution of ecosystems, cultures and built environments.
- To promote a collaborative space for participants to operate as productive members of a collective with shared responsibilities for group survival, safety, and inquiry in demanding intellectual and physical contexts.
- To create an atmosphere of critical inquiry and creative learning through making that expands disciplinary limits of knowledge and connects broad modes of practice across the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences.
- To interpolate and test understandings of craft in the production of works, the practice of everyday life, and the rigors of fieldwork during overland travel.
- To develop a body of research within the landscape of the Americas building upon the collective history of Land Arts field experience and examining all forms of place.
- To foster the ability for participant, faculty, and professional research to develop simultaneously and in parallel through the creation of new works, exhibitions, publications, and other forms of dissemination.
Historically Land Arts participants carry lasting effects of their experience that resonate through their work and personal identity well beyond the duration of their involvement with the program. It is helpful to understand the labors and merits of Land Arts over longer periods of time than a semester or degree program. Such an intense physical, intellectual, and emotional experience makes profound impressions; changing people’s lives by transforming their relationship to the physical and social environments we occupy.
Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University is a full long-semester program that runs in the fall of each year from the College of Architecture. The first two-thirds of the term are spent living and working in the field, with studio work on campus occurring during the balance of the term and breaks from the field. At its core Land Arts is a studio experience providing a full load of credits for participants to remain full time degree seeking students. It can also be an immersive educational trajectory independent of degree requirements. The primary course load is divided between studio, seminar, and exhibition — for a minimum of 9 credit hours offered to graduate and undergraduate students from across Texas Tech University and to others who enroll in the university for the term. Since 2019, the graduate Land Arts of the American West Certificate is available to facilitate international visa applications and provide a formal academic credential if desired.
The course work of Land Arts occurs along three distinct lines of investigation: studio (action/operations), seminar (discourse/perceptions), and documentation (analysis/reflections). While the course structure, titles and assignments are discrete, the subject matter and momentum established by the program is holistic and defies compartmentalization. The work produced through Land Arts will consist of projects associated with the specific courses as well as activities existing between them. The primary elements will be: process works, finished works, seminar discussions, and exhibition. Participation in all elements is required.
During the field season, and by the end of the term, participants produce a body, or bodies, of work that activates and demonstrates their vivid research trajectory. The direction, size and scope of this work is determined by the research questions of each participant.
In the field, time is structured between days of travel, interpretive sites (places to investigate and engage specific works, histories and conditions), and production sites (places to produce and examine work within specific landscapes, ecosystems, and climates). While each setting offers distinct degrees of group coordination, individual work can be produced at any time.
Seminar sessions occur in a pattern throughout the semester to provide a place of discussion where the questions of the program and individuals can be addressed and developed. Field guests often lead discussions of their work and/or interpretations of particular sites. Participants sustain generative dialog of heterogeneous sources, examples, and works discussed in seminar, on site, while traveling or cooking, to support the collective inquiry of the group.
Scheduled studio sessions on campus, after traveling, allow further development and completion of work originated in the field. At the end of the term, a final critique occurs within the College of Architecture where work will be presented and discussed with a panel of outside reviewers. Feedback from this critique is generally productive in considerations for finalizing work for exhibition. Work created by all participants during the program is publicly exhibited.
Land Arts maintains an archive that includes documentation of process works in the field, program experience, finished work and participant field notebooks and sketchbooks. Participants deploy and refine patterns of sketchbook activity recording the motivation, details, process, and results of works in production while also nurturing and refining research questions through daily provocation and/or observation in a field notebook. All participants are required to participate in the collection of materials and contributions to the archive. The archive is managed online and specific requirements for submission will be provided.
Travel & Camping
Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University engages the landscape through direct exposure. Participants must be prepared for the rigors of road and wilderness. Spending two months traveling 6,000 miles throughout the American West to visit and make work in response to contemporary and pre-contact land art is to engage the fundamental difference between embodied and mediated education. Land Arts seeks to confirm the idea that if you bring participants out into the world instead of the world into the classroom, you can fundamentally change how we learn, create, and perceive our surroundings. In this context we strive to make deeper and more precise connections within our work and be inspired to create work that makes broader linkages outside of ourselves.
Land Arts curriculum is delivered while camping and traveling from site to site. The physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges of this experience are essential ingredients in the overall educational content of the program. It is critical to the success and survival of the group that each participant accepts the responsibilities of working with and for the group. Camp work (set up, cooking, cleaning, water hauling, breaking camp…) will be required of everyone. Participants will be responsible for their own individual camping gear and course materials (see Field Equipment List provided). Group gear (cooking equipment, water storage, kitchen shelter, mobile tech lab…) is provided by the program.
The itinerary is determined by the intersection of production and interpretive sites and the geographical movement connecting them. Land Arts seeks to investigate particular and diverse places (and placeless areas) that define the American West. Travel between points of inquiry is as important as the destinations. The itinerary is generally finalized by mid summer with sites similar to or including those of previous years. Past field season detail examples: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.
The American West is our classroom and studio. Program guests are invited to join particular segments of our journeys to assist the interpretation of places we encounter and work we produce. The interaction with significant authorities from diverse cultures expands the scope of our discussion and enables participants to connect their work to broader contexts. Final selection of the guests is determined in conjunction with the itinerary. Past guests have included Center for Land Use Interpretation director Matthew Coolidge, Utah Museum of Fine Arts director Gretchen Dietrich, Remote Studio director Lori Ryker, Adobe Alliance founder Simone Swan; artists Deborah Stratman, Postcommodity, Joan Jonas, and Zoe Leonard; art Historians Ann Reynolds, Kevin Chua, and Monty Paret; architects Urs Peter Flueckiger, David Gregor, Jack Sanders, and Nichole Wiedemann; and writers Curtis Bauer, Charles Bowden, Lucy Lippard, and Barry Lopez.
Chris Taylor was born in West Germany, raised in waters of Southwest Florida, lives in arid American Southwest. An architect, educator, and director of Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University, Taylor is deeply committed to the intersection of human construction and the evolving nature of the planet. The Terminal Lake Exploration Platform, created with support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, continues to facilitate visual and performative research within under-examined basins and internal aquatic fringes. Taylor studied architecture at the University of Florida and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard.
Land Arts program manager assists in field operations with responsibilities over base camp logistics, travel, and offers additional critical perspective to the development of participant research questions and works. The individual in this position engages in seminar, critique and the creation of the archive.
Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University accesses a broad range of physical and geographic research materials. Production of work is the primary responsibility of each participant. In most cases participants provide physical material needed to complete their work. Material may be collected in the field and/or packed in. Keep in mind that space in the vehicles is very limited and each participant will be expected to operate within a general allotment of two large (soft) sturdy duffle bags. Readings focused around particular sites and questions are required while traveling. Preparatory research before field work is encouraged.
All camping and work production is governed by a no trace ethic. This means we strive to minimize our effect on the environment in all activities. After documentation all work will be deconstructed and the site returned as nearly as possible to its original condition.
All participants are expected to maintain consistent engagement contributing to the successful operation of the program. This includes scheduled rotations for cooking and cleaning; assisting with packing, unpacking, camp setup and take down; and general operations.
- Texas Tech University tuition and fees. Nine graduate hours at the in-state rate is currently under $4,500 (see the tuition estimator for additional details). Generally, the program awards competitive scholarships that, in addition to the award value, allow for registration at in-state rates.
- Attached to the courses is a Land Arts program fee of $3,000. It covers the costs of overland transportation, program operations, group lodging and camp meals while in the field. Please note: camp meals include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Reasonable dietary restrictions are accommodated.
- Personal medical insurance during the semester.
- Travel to and from Lubbock.
- Housing and meals while in Lubbock.
- Risk: understand and familiarize yourself with the risks inherent in this program and traveling in the landscape of the southwest. Critical to the foundation of Land Arts is the educational opportunity of working within the landscape. Land Arts is intellectually, physically, emotionally, and environmentally demanding. Be prepared to respond to these demands.
- Precautions: remain aware of all verbal and written precautions provided in the field and on campus.
- Not getting Lost: always tell others where you are going, your expected return time, and anticipated route (there and back). Use maps, personal guidance, natural landmarks, and travel with partners. If you become lost: stay calm. Remain in your location and wait for help. Seek a shelter and gather local provisions as the situation warrants.
- Dehydration: always carry plenty of water, 1-2 quarts minimum. It is very important to have enough water should something unexpected happen. Most ground water if found is NOT SAFE to drink.
- Nutrition: eat well to maintain energy levels for field operations. Always carry reserve food when away from camp (energy bars, snacks, fruit, lunch…).
- Respect: always respect the natural, cultural, and personal resources found in the field. This directly affects your personal safety as well as the preservation of those resources for future use by others.
- No trace: the no trace ethic guides our field operations. Effort is required to minimize evidence of our camping and working at sites visited.
- Change: all activities are subject to change due to variable weather, travel, and camp conditions. Safety always comes first. Stay informed of current logistics and collective awareness.
- Group Eyes: stay connected to the group as a whole and through small partnerships. It is vital to watch out for the group and keep others informed of activities and locations.
- Release: to participate in the program all indemnification, release, proof of insurance, and information forms must be completed, signed and submitted.
All participants share the responsibility for successful and healthy operations of camp life and are accountable to the program director and manager.