Response to Walter De Maria’s “The Earth Room”

Maria Lopez

Core Seminar 2

Johanna Herr

April 23rd, 2017

Exhibition Visit Assignment

Dia Art Foundation

The Earth Room, By Walter De Maria

The Dia Art Foundation has been showcasing Walter De Maria’s New York Earth Room, since 1980. The Installation is long-term and site specific, in is composed of 250 cubic yards of dirt over 3,600 square feet of floor space. The dirt is 22 inches deep, and weighs 280,000 lbs. The Earth room is really impressive and offers a sense of peace and quiet. Although located in the middle of Soho, the earth room creates a different environment in which the audience can exist within. The audience is moved to interact with all their senses, specifically sight, sound, and smell. Since the installation does not allow for interaction with the soil, the audience must enjoy the installation through other senses. The smell of fresh earth contrasts the concrete city outside the gallery’s door. The quiet and echo enabled through the empty room, removes the installation from the city in which it is located. The soil has a beautiful presence and body, which is enhanced by the way it occupies the space. The space is created in a way, to retain raw nature within the city, or to present a space where people can experience stillness, in the middle of a chaotic place. Walter De Maria has a very unique, minimal style that is characteristic to him. The artist’s intentions are clear and successful, as he compares and contrasts, elements, mediums, forms, and color within the earth room. The use of perspective, architectural elements and space correlates from piece to piece within De Maria’s work and is especially strong within the New York Earth Room.


Walter De Maria,

The New York Earth Room,


Long-term installation at 141 Wooster Street, New York City

Photo: John Cliett

© Dia Art Foundation.