More than three decades later, the draw — part spiritualist, part survivalist — hasn’t ebbed. Erin Hogan, the director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago , was one of many who felt the pull — perhaps even the same impulses that motivated the works’ creators. Quoting Smithson quoting G. K. Chesterton, she writes of wanting “that most joyful and dreadful thing in the physical universe ... the fiercest note ... the highest light.” A prototypical urbanite, surrounded by friends and noise, Hogan says she was beset by an “early midlife crisis,” wondering if there wasn’t more to life than meetings and e-mail. “I wanted to learn to enjoy being alone,” she writes. And as a “recovering art historian,” she longed to experience works she had only known refracted through art criticism and seminar slide shows.
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