Featured artwork

1976, Nancy Holt

Sun Tunnels is located in the Great Basin Desert outside of the ghost town of Lucin, Utah. The work is a product of Holt’s interest in the great variation of intensity of the sun in the desert compared to the sun in the city. Holt searched for and found a site which was remote and empty. "It is a very desolate area, but it is totally accessible, and it can be easily visited, making Sun Tunnels more accessible really than art in museums . . . A work like Sun Tunnels is always accessible . . . Eventually, as many people will see Sun Tunnels as would see many works in a city-in a museum anyway." The work consists of four massive concrete tunnels (18 feet long and nine feet in diameter), which are arranged in an “X” configuration to total a length of 86 feet (26 m). Each tunnel reacts differently to the sun, aligned with the sunrise, sunset, of the summer or winter solstice. Someone visiting the site would see the tunnels immediately with their contrast to the fairly undifferentiated desert landscape. Approaching the work, which can be seen one to one-and-a-half miles away, the viewer’s perception of space is questioned as the tunnels change views as a product of their landscape. The tunnels not only provide a much-needed shelter from the sweltering desert sun, but once inside the dazzling effect of the play of light within the tunnels can be seen. The top of each tunnel has small holes, forming on each, the constellations of Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn, respectively. The diameters of the holes differ in relation to the magnitude of the stars represented. These holes cast spots of daylight in the dark interiors of the tunnels, which appear almost like stars. Holt has said of the tunnels, "It’s an inversion of the sky/ground relationship-bringing the sky down to the earth." This is a common theme in Holt’s work. She sometimes creates this relationship with reflecting pools and shadow patterns marked on the ground, like in her work Star Crossed.

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