Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

Document Type



This study investigates the use of site-specific art as a means of enhancing and interpreting an historic battlefield. The finding of this study are demonstrated in a series of designs for interpretive installations for the Port Hudson State Historic Site, a Civil War battlefield located in Louisiana. The interpretive methods commonly used in historic battlefields today, as identified in chapter two of this thesis, tend to produce remote relationship between visitors of the current generation and the site. To help visitors understand the meaning of historic battlefields batter, site-specific art is introduced in this thesis as an instrument to retrieve the subtle relationship between humans and their land. To employ art as an interpretive in an historic battlefield is a novel experiment in the United States. This study therefore conducts a review of the genre of site-specific art in order to inform readers of its nature. Notable works by contemporary "land artists" are described, and certain landscape architects' adaptation of site-specific art in historical commemorating are discussed as well. After modes of application of site-specific art are identified, I survey the local history of the study site in order to explore the site specificity of the place through its past patterns of human occupation. The settlements and the Civil War military deployments are both found to have been closely related to local geographic characteristics, demonstrating a high degree of material site-specificity. An ethnography of the Historic Site follows to discover the meanings that the Site's staff and visitors routinely attach to it (immaterial site-specificity). Combing the results of these two studies, the sense of place and the fundamental interpretive subjects of the Site emerge. Several significant spots in the historic site are then selected to demonstrate site-specific art. Through a series of rehabilitative designs, this kind of creative interpretation is shown to be an effective means of conveying the meaning of an historic place to visitors. Applied in conjunction with the existing traditional interpretive methods, site-specific art is thus shown to be effective in bringing a close relationship between the current generation and their legacy of historic battlefields.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Kevin J. Risk