Energy Producing Wyoming Gets Its Own Power Button

Jul 17, 2015

Seen from the air, the Power Switch is inscribed in a horse pasture in Daniel, Wyoming, near Pinedale.

Coal and gas from Wyoming’s mineral-rich land powers much of the nation. Now, the state even has a power switch—the same circle and line button seen on household electronics, tilled into a field in Sublette County. The 100 foot diameter Power Switch is the creation of three artists from the Pinedale area. It’s an example of land art, which uses elements of nature to harmonize with its location. And because it’s natural, it changes with the seasons. Right now, flowers are growing in the power switch, so it has an orange glow.

A huge power button carved into one of the state’s major oil and gas producing counties raises questions about energy extraction and environmental stewardship, but artist Sue Sommers says the creators don’t have an agenda. “We would like the Power Switch to spark widespread conversation and help look at these issues that can be so divisive,” she says. “But the more we talk and the more we can arrive at common ground, the less divisive it will be. And we think that artwork provides an opportunity for coming together, rather than tearing each other apart.”

Sommers adds it’s not just about energy; it’s also about the power of the earth, the power of human imagination—anything an observer might see. The Power Switch has an open house on Saturday, July 18 in Daniel, Wyoming.