Al Poynter, Stonemason of Holt’s “Rock Rings” visits WWU May 4

As part of its commitment to preserving, presenting, and expanding research on its world renowned outdoor sculpture collection, the Western Gallery at Western Washington University is pleased to welcome back Al Poynter, the stone mason who worked closely with Nancy Holt to build one of her most famous open air works, “Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings” (1977-1978), sited on the campus of WWU.

Poynter will return to Holt’s work on May 4, providing insights about its construction and artist, while also fulfilling his own prophecy to return one day and find himself “inside those walls, somewhere.” With Poynter, Holt selected the stone, 106 tons of 200 million year old hand-quarried schist stone from nearby British Columbia.   

Using Polaris as her navigational beacon, Holt aligned her ten-foot high, concentric ring-within-ring structure on a “true” north-south axis. The cosmic orientation transforms the Earthwork’s twelve portals and four archways into compass points from which one can view the surrounding terrain. As Holt describes it, Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings has a “raw permanence”; and due to Al Poytner’s superb craftsmanship “should remain for a long time, weathering and changing color slowly through the years.”

About Nancy Holt

Nancy Holt (1938-2014) was an American artist known for her innovative Land art, public sculpture, and installation work. Her oeuvre ranges from permanent works to ephemeral gestures:she made films, videos, photography, audio works, concrete poetry, and artists’ books. An analytical thinker, Holt began her early work in concrete poetry in 1966 and engaged in Conceptual art practices during the mid-seventies. She participated in landmark exhibitions, and her work is held in major public collections, including: Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art; Utah Museum of Fine Arts; and Museum für Gegenswartkunst.

About The Western Gallery

The Western Gallery at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington is a university art institution whose purpose is to collect, exhibit, and preserve visual art materials, and to further encourage the use of these materials for educational and research purposes. It presents five to six temporary art exhibitions annually, focusing on national and international art and oversees the university campus collection of outstanding modern and contemporary sculpture, with works by Alice Aycock, Nancy Holt, Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, Isamu Noguchi, and Richard Serra, among other artists.

For more information about the exhibit and the gallery, visit or call (360) 650-3963 during gallery hours.