Partially Buried Woodshed (demolished)
Sculptor/Creator – Robert Smithson (1938-1973)
Date – January 1970
Media – mixed media Earthwork
Location – Liquid Crystal Materials Science Building
Robert Smithson (1938-1973) was a visiting artist-in-residence for one week at the Kent State University School of Art in January of 1970. For a conceptual art earthwork project, he and some students rented a back hoe and dumped 20 truckloads of dirt onto an abandoned woodshed. A year after the piece was partially buried, someone wrote “May 4 Kent 70,” onto a lintel of the shed. Thus the work became associated with the event. The site is located on the east campus, near the Liquid Crystal Materials Science Building, which had not yet been constructed when the piece was executed. Smithson was one of the earliest artists to work with manmade objects in the landscape, which represented from a broader perspective—cultural history. To materials in the landscape he added nature, so that its forces over time would cause the object to acquire its own history. Part of the shed’s roof collapsed from the weight of the dirt. Further deterioration took place: the exposed part of the shed burned in 1975, and the remainder of it disappeared early in 1984. All that remains is the site covered with bushes, and surrounded by trees. Smithson’s work on the shed has been documented over the years, written about and filmed. It was an important creation in the body of work for the short-lived artist and has received international recognition. It, as with several of the landmarks associated with May 4th, remain a lasting reminder of the history and events of the period.