Environmental Reclamation Artist Angelo Ciotti
The Twin Stupas Project
Twin Stupas, Large Image

Chicora, Butler County, Pennsylvania 1987-1996

Twin Stupas is part of a 22 acre earthwork, conceived and executed as a collaboration between Angelo Ciotti and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts and the Pittsburgh Centre for the Arts. The purpose of the earthwork is to reclaim a hazardous abandoned surface mine near Chicora,in Butler County, which is located forty six miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

The Twin Stupas are two mounds, each 300 ft. in diameter: One "dead," inverted, and 45 ft. deep, lined with rocks and boulders; the other "living," 60 ft high, and covered with various species of grasses. Both are connected by a spiral that rises from the bottom of the "dead" mound to the top of the "living" mound.

The projects is essentially functional, with a two fold purpose:

  1. To help bring wildlife habitats back into the scarred area, and provide food resources for a variety of species, through the selection of suitable kinds of vegetation to give food and cover for deer, birds, etc. The planting scheme is to be constructed in order to derive the maximum benefit for the wildlife”
  2. To provide a sculptural earthwork as a powerful aesthetic entity by utilizing the form and color of the developing vegetation elements.

People make "pilgrimage" visits to the site, which is intended to emphasize the precarious nature of the balance between man's use and his abuse of the environment. It is thus desirable that the whole project be undertaken and supported, as widely as possible, as a great group collaboration.

The goal of this collaboration is to deepen the communities’ understanding of the arts in land art, on site events, music, dance, performing arts, etc. I have observed the process in the creating and reclaiming of surface mines by independent mining companies and Soil Conservation Service of Butler County for six summers. Two reclamation projects have been completed, with the planting of 8,000 trees and the Geibel Project, a series of lectures on mine reclamation; Brandywine Workshop at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia; the University of Florence, Italy; and the National Coal Board, Mansfield, England.