Drill Core Samples: After Gordon Matta-Clark

Gordon Matta-Clark ( 1943 – 1978) reimagined how humans could relate to our built environments. Through a series of diverse explorations, the “anarchitect” questioned conventional structural boundaries. In doing so, the artist continually highlighted the role architecture plays in our everyday lives and urban societies. The artist was particularly interested in spaces that were abandoned or forgotten in our built landscapes. Prominent in the New York City art scene in the 1970s, Matta-Clark is most famous for works like Conical Intersect (1975) which saw a large circular hole cut straight through a large abandoned building.

This past quarter, DU studio instructor Judith Leinen’s 3-D Approaches class found a unique way to contemplate the newfound reality of quarantined art-making. While following the shelter in place order during spring 2020, the students closely investigated and reflected on their immediate domestic environments. In conversation with works by Matta – Clark, they imagined their homes with holes and created exact imitations of drill-core samples through their walls. These duplicates were cast in plaster with the help of materials found in everybody’s household, such as toilet paper cores, toothpaste, and potatoes. Leinen’s class documented their work in progress through blog-stye reflections. These images are screenshots of their projects and reflections, which the students shared with one another as they worked.

Student artists included are Emma Sternitzky, Lillian Schaffer, Joe Goodacer, Caitlin Grant, Gwyneth Broadrick, and Jad Al Jabi.

To find out more about Judith Leiden’s other coursework and artist’s practice visit her website here.



Image credit: Gordon Matta-Clark and Gerry Hovagimyan, working on Conical Intersect, 1975. © Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and David Zwirner, New York.


Finding the perfect place to drill an imaginary hole.
Measuring to create a 1:1 mold.
At home mold-making techniques … with spuds!
Casting in progress.
Caitlin Grant reveals her work during unmolding.
The finished projects.