The Amarillo Ramp, a landscape sculpture by Robert Smithson, was a wonderful piece to visit. Located out of town in a desert area, tucked away from the greater population, was this grand piece waiting to affect the viewer. Being placed out in the desert, away from noise and distractions, allowed me to feel a sort of serenity out on the ramp. It was so silent out there, that any sort of sound seemed as if it were right next to me. I remember hearing a group speaking at the top of the big hill while I was down on the ramp, and I could hear every word clearly, as if they were standing right next to me. That alone was a weird experience.
This ramp was a half circle structure formed from dirt and rocks that would elevate towards one end and descend towards the other, like a ramp. Originally, this area was filled with water intending the ramp to slowly emerge from the water; however, Smithson was never able to refill the water before he passed away, resulting in the present dirt on dirt sculpture. Yet, even the ramp’s appearance today is not how it was originally viewed in its creation. Due to natural elements and erosion, the ramp has shrunk down in size and now has a little bit of vegetation growing on it. I can sense how elegant this ramp would have looked if Smithson would have been able to complete it, though, I for one, really appreciated it for how it is now.
We were instructed to not speak to one another and go off on our own so that we could get a sense of this space for ourselves. Being out in that hot desert and standing on the hot dirt of the ramp, brought me a connected feeling to the place I was in. Looking out into the vast desert with the heat pressing down on me, I felt dueling pulls of isolation and freedom; as if I was alone in my physical surroundings and thoughts and could stay there forever, but also, the sense of being free to fly out into any place I wanted to be. The hot dirt of the ground that sent the heat from the earth, up to my feet, and through the rest of my body, however, grounded me to the place I was in, making me feel one with the earth and open air I was surrounded by.