Our culture needs models of "art that works" to solve problems in aesthetic and culturally resonant ways. The downstream impact of this artwork has inspired artists around the globe, leading the way towards what is now becoming a central art movement of our time.
exhibit introduction by Sam Bower
He used grass before any of us – and knew how to make mounds feel deeply mysterious: grass mountains, so earth-laden and earth-derived, and yet still feeling like they came from another planet. Looking back, I realize how much of an influence that sense of mystery exerted on my own use of material and making of shape – clearly, Herbert Bayer was an important influence on many land-art (earth) sculptors, as well as landscape architects.
statement by artist Beverly Pepper
In addition to an appreciation for his elegant landform compositions, Bayer’s work is reflected in contemporary landscape architecture in primarily two ways: through his embrace of the public process and his insistence that art should serve a social purpose.essay by academic Tim Baird
The Herbert Bayer earthwork in Kent was the first art piece I knew that had two distinct lives: one wet, one dry. And that concept—that a piece of sculpture could show you the changes in the landscape, was pivotal to me.
statement by artist Stacy Levy
Beginning in the 1940s, Bayer’s design for the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies included buildings, murals, sculpture, and graphic design projects—all visually integrated among themselves and with the natural landscape. In 1955, he created grass mound, an "earthwork" forty feet in diameter. This monument of molded earth was constructed fully a decade before anyone had thought of that term, making him a pioneer in what is today known as site-specific sculpture.
essay by curator Gwen Chanzit
The Herbert Bayer Earthworks at Mill Creek Canyon is one of the premiere extant examples of the integration of art, landscape and water management, and as such is worthy of a design and management response that preserves the integrity of the resource while addressing present-day management concerns.
letter from Charles Birnbaum
Bureaucrats! It's beyond human resources to set a 10,000 year regulation. There are too many variables at play. Even if they're right, the whole damn system would be overcharged. They can't be serious about this - people have only been building for 5,000 years - the pyramids aren't even 5,000 years old.
statement by landscape architect Richard Haag
Herbert Bayer rebuffed this channelization of thought; above all else, he was a humanist of the highest order and embraced the overlaps, inconsistencies and the floodplains of thought that make the human experience richer.
essay by designer Brice Maryman
Notably we ended at the Hill of Tara, standing amongst that ancient earthwork with its circular ditches and mounds that are an obvious point of reference for anyone interested in Bayer’s work.
essay by artist and academic Tim Collins
Herbert came to visit me in my loft at 93 Crosby Street, came in his black silk shirt, and spent half a day looking at my work and talking with me. This was way back around 1980. I think his interest in my work came from a realization that his work was earthwork and that mine was a departure from anything previous. In other words, earthworks are different from ecological works in intent, form and execution.
statement by artist Agnes Denes
. . . artists come to similar conclusions at similar times without necessarily being aware of each other, and certainly without building on each other’s work. A sensitivity to the zeitgeist is perhaps the highest expression of what we do.
statement by artist Steven Siegel
As an artist who has spent almost forty years trying to unify art and infrastructure with ecological nature and the public landscape, it is thrilling to find models that succeed beautifully.
statement by artist Patricia Johanson
The longevity of the Morris and Bayer works tell of the both their acceptance and worthiness. Worthiness in not only the aesthetic sense but in the reclamation sense too.
essay by curator Greg Bell
Here I was, standing in Kent, in an obvious earthwork, as autonomous as a Michael Heizer, and as functional as a corps of engineers’ structure. The word ‘aesthetics’ came up, and I realized I should reconsider this word.
statement by artist Jeroen van Westen
I know Herbert Bayer’s Earthworks aligns me with the very things that make me want to paint in the first place: the reverence, the intimacy, the sense of connection that come from standing for many hours outside in the woods or on a river bank.
statement by artist Kathleen Frugé-Brown
When viewing the formalism of Bayer’s Earthworks at Mill Creek, and its intended function, I think of the story of the Zen tea master: upon inspecting an apprentice’s grooming of the tea garden, the master shook a nearby tree to allow its leaves to fall upon the manicured landscape, in order to complete the work by introducing natural chance.
statement by artist Buster Simpson
. . . at the end of a long day of patting soft paper on rocks, I looked at the evening sky where the stars had started to sparkle. My first impression was that the patterns in the sky looked similar to the patterns of the stones of the river. It hit me like a flash of light – the universes are patterned on water and I knew nothing about water.
statement by artist Betsy Damon
I moved to Kent in the summer of 1980 and Herbert Bayer’s Mill Creek Canyon Earthwork became part of my peripheral vision. It was a sculpted green valley that invited my kids to roll down its grassy hills and skateboard along the winding paths. We didn’t know of the park’s international acclaim or its significance to environmental art and the geo-stability of the Kent valley. We didn’t even realize it was art. It was just a good place to go.
statement by artist Ruth Marie Tomlinson
. . . it was the images I had from Herbert Bayer’s Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks that finally got through to the audience. Here was a real problem with a real and art-full solution – it worked to solve the environmental problem and it worked to address something in the human soul as well.
statement by project director T. Allan Comp
Although Bayer’s work had not been realized at this time, we included it in the book as an important aspect that artists and designers could deal with the particular issues of the land and shape it to deal with particular problems.
statement by artist Mags Harries
Robert Morris’ ethical questions raised at the symposium organized by the Seattle Art Museum in 1977 concerning the implications of wiping away land-use transgressions of the past through the application of an artistic overlay, strengthened our request to the City of Palo Alto . . .
statement by artist Peter Richards
. . . the proposal for the Reclamation initiative required a new way of thinking about structure and how it could influence real land use.
statement by artist Dennis Oppenheim
Bayer’s Earthworks was an important influence during my research phase. By using art as a means to capture, hold, and convey stormwater, it provided inspiration and an important precedent.
statement by artist Lorna Jordan
As a first year graduate student in landscape architecture, I began my art and design library. A monograph on Herbert Bayer was the first volume I purchased for my collection. I had seen images of Bayer’s Earthworks at Mill Creek Canyon in a class, and was instantly obsessed. I had to know more.
statement by artist Laura Haddad
Herbert Bayer’s designs of the Aspen Institute’s modernist buildings contrasted with the town’s Victorian architecture, and the sinuous landscape of manmade earth forms were subtle and sensuous relative to the dramatic Maroon Bells of the Rocky Mountains that loom large above the town.
statement by artist Ellen Sollod
As an aspiring painter in Santa Barbara in 1975, I jumped at the opportunity to become Herbert Bayer’s studio assistant, a decision that changed my focus as an artist forever.
statement by artist Paul Hobson
I found Herbert Bayer to be a patient man, always eager to hear about progress on the project.
statement artist by John Hoge
As we built The Daylight over the course of the summer, we witnessed hundreds of park visitors walk through the site – sometimes in a chatting group with friends or family, other visitors walking in solitary reflection.
statement by choreographer Alex Martin
Creating music inspired by the Earthworks will be a natural progression, influenced by a work of art that still can be described as progressive and challenging.
statement by artist and musician Paul Rucker
Bayer’s Earthworks at Mill Creek Canyon frames the slow, lapping, tension between water that shapes land, and land that shapes water.
statement by artist Perri Lynch
In 1890 the Kent Lumber Company began operating on Mill Creek at the base of Kent’s East Hill. Loggers wearing caulks and carrying peavey poles would use oxen to pull huge logs along the skid road to Mill Creek canyon.
essay by historian Linda Van Nest
Creating in the interface between art and ecology is a fragile pursuit: one navigates environmental accountability, education, aesthetics, varying degrees of societal judgment, and changing views of the times. In this light, the interest that has followed Bayer’s Earthworks over twenty-five years is even more remarkable.
statement by artist Kristin L. Tollefson
Drawn to certain places and the power they exert, I am also driven by the need to explore the paradoxical ways in which humans relate to their environment.statement by artist Vaughn Bell
Through my work as a problem solver and initiator, I hope to inspire and incite change in social visions, thus improving the quality of the built and natural environment.
statement by artist Jann Rosen-Queralt
Luckily for us, enlightened artists such as Bayer, and enlightened public agencies such as King County and the City of Kent showed the world how public art can reach beyond the metaphorical and iconic, and through collaborative efforts create a multidimensional environment that is both aesthetically rich and functionally dynamic.
statement by artist Tom Drugan
It has always seemed to me that when an artist is asked to speak about his work, that one of two assumptions is being made: one, that because he has made something, he has anything to say about it, or two, if he does, he would want to. Questionable assumptions, in my opinion.
essay by Robert Morris