Orit Haj, a site-specific artwork at Vasquez Rocks in Acton-Agua Dulce, California, pays tribute to the earliest inhabitants of the Santa Clarita Valley—the Tataviam tribe. Created by artistic duo Didier Hess, the piece is a solid earthen structure made of a mixture of soil and cement; it is designed to slowly erode over the course of the next 150 years. Artifacts, including a bronze sculpture, embedded in the structure will slowly be revealed as the structure disappears, making the piece come alive in new ways for each generation that encounters it.
Orit and haj mean “river” and “mountain,” respectively, in the Tataviam language—and the structure mimics the form of the nearby Vasquez Rocks. Echoing the shape of an earthen bench, the piece invites visitors to touch it and climb on it, letting them physically connect with history and the traditional culture.
Orit Haj was named one of the 50 best public art projects by the 2013 Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts.