As block break approaches, students scramble to finish finals in order to embark on the most epic five-day adventures. While the Colorado weather in September is cool and sunny, most students find themselves fishing, boating, or hiking.
Junior Art History major Suzanna Brown took it upon herself to have a productive adventurous block break. With seniors John Keenan, Anna Minsky, and LeeAna Wolfman, Brown ventured off to Utah to find the Robert Smithon’s Spiral Jetty.
The Spiral Jetty is located in Box Elder, Utah, in the northwest corner, bordering the Great Salt Lake. It is a coil of monumental earthwork created by Smithson from black basalt rocks. The sculpture is 1500 feet long and 15 feet wide, stretching out counter-clockwise into the red lake water.
Brown chose her Art History thesis topic last year, with no intentions of actually visiting the Jetty.
Brown and company set off before sunrise on Thursday for the 10-hour drive. They reached the lake at sunset, as the water reflected the mountains.
Brown said they spent the first night an hour from the Jetty on “Antelope Island, where bison roam free through the camp site.”
The next morning, they awoke to the pungent smell of the Salt Lake sulfur and took off to find the Jetty.
Brown claimed, “The drive [to the sculpture site] was a quest within itself, we followed the directions from the museum who owns the work.”
After passing the Railroad Promontory “where the East and West railroad first join,” the group drove for an hour on dirt roads. The directions instructed them to “pass four cattle guards and disregard the ‘No Trespassing’ signs.”
“Finally, with the Salt Lake in sight, my hopes rose of actually seeing this art work that I had been researching for six months now,” Brown said.
The Jetty was erected in 1970 and has for decades been covered from the rise in water levels. Because of these environmental effects, Brown assumed she would never be able to see the work. However, it emerged this past summer after thirty years of concealment.
As they drove up, the road provided a plain view of the entire work.
“Seeing this piece that had been so mystified by my research was incredibly grounding,” Brown said. “I jumped out of the car, legs asleep from the long dirt road drive, and started running towards the Jetty.”
Minsky, Keenan, and Wolfman joined Brown in the water shortly after and they walked along the rocks toward the center of the spiral. Brown said she felt home vibes from California as she found herself in the clearest sunny weather, surrounded by water. It was a treacherous climb to the center that cut up her feet and made it hard to balance, Brown recounted.
“I took a deep breath and tried to let it all in, or out, or something,” Brown claimed. “The feeling was overwhelming. I felt inspired by the artwork itself, a small monument to the earth in the middle of nowhere, Utah, and even more thankful” to see the piece she would then research for seven months.
The group swam in the 26-percent-saline lake and took in their surroundings until it was unbearable for their skin. They then walked back out of the spiral and claimed one last photograph before their next stop in Canyonlands National Park.
Being back on campus, Brown is undeniably grateful for the opportunity of such a monumental block break adventure.
Brown said, “Block breaks are an opportunity for learning in an entirely different way, and I am most thankful for my road trip companions for trusting me on this pilgrimage to see the Spiral Jetty.”