Lawmakers consider making Spiral Jetty official state work of art

Lawmakers consider making Spiral Jetty official state work of art

(Tom Smart, Deseret News, File)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers took note of the desolate beauty that surrounds the Spiral Jetty as they considered designating the artificial formation to be the official state work of art.

HB211, sponsored by Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, proposes that the spiraling formation of basalt rock and earth be recognized by the state. Artist Robert Smithson created the Spiral Jetty in April of 1970. Smithson's creations helped pioneer the genre known as "land art" by transforming landscapes and objects in natural settings into sculpted structures.

"I admonish you to take your children to the Spiral Jetty," Edwards said Friday.

The measure represents the lawmaker's second effort to create the designation.

"My students, when they got the opportunity to study this, felt like this was a special piece to them," Shelly Shupe said.

Edwards invited Shupe, an American Fork High School teacher, to speak on behalf of the designation, and Shupe cited the analysis of her art students in describing the significance of the land art.

"We are a people aware of our past," Shupe read. "The spiral shape connects us visually and literally to not only the Native American history of Utah but is symbol found in many ancient societies."

Various members of the committee spoke with unanimous support in approving the measure. The bill passed to the House for further discussion.

"I think elevating something as iconic, in some circles, as the Spiral Jetty to be our official state work of art could bring it more into the mainstream consciousness of all Utahns," Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, said.


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