Nancy Holt was an American artist, known for her sculptures, installation art, and earthworks. While she began her career as a photographer and video artist, she is mostly known for her large-scale environmental works.
In 1963, three years after graduating from Tufts University, she married Robert Smithson, a fellow environmental artist who died in 1973 at the age of 35. In 1974, Holt collaborated with Richard Serra as he videotaped her listening to her own voice echoing back into headphones. Her involvement with photography and optics served to influence her earthworks, which are “seeing devices . . . for tracking the positions of the sun, earth, and stars.”
Her 1973-1976 sculpture Sun Tunnels in northwest Utah’s Great Basin Desert, is a minimal arrangement of four 9-foot-tall cylinders, made of cast concrete covert pipes, positioned in orientation to the constellations. People can walk into them, and twice a year they align perfectly with the equinox and solstice.
She has made other earthworks in Ohio, California, Virginia, and New Jersey. Holt produced films and videos often in collaboration with other land artists such as her husband Robert Smithson, Richard Serra, and Michael Heizer.