The Key Room is a multifaceted multi-media project created by artist Carrie Hott to serve as both permanent art installation and visitor resource center on the first floor of Headlands' main building.

In this project Hott, who has been developing The Key Room since 2014, incorporates extensive research on the history of the Marin Headlands, inclusive of Portuguese immigrant dairy farmers who lived in the area through the 19th century; military personnel stationed to defend the area spanning from the time of the Civil War to Cold War-era missiles; citizen activists who stopped the land development project, "Marincello", and paved the way for the National Park Service (NPS); and finally, the visionary artists and thought-leaders who started Headlands Center for the Arts and propelled it on a path of success. With these histories in mind, The Key Room embraces displays that are relevant to the site: archival holdings, military operations rooms, archeological displays, and visitor centers for historical interpretation.

Components of Hott's installation include original visual imagery made by Hott and video footage of the site, a shelf of objects from Headlands' own material collection, and a bank of phones which play prerecorded audio tracks, sounds, and interviews from various moments and key players in the Marin Headlands' history (artists, former land inhabitants, military personnel, and park rangers, to name a few). The 20+ recorded tracks include accounts from the foundational artists and architects who transformed Headlands into the center it is today (David Ireland, Ann Hamilton, Bruce Tomb and John Randolph, and Amy Franceschini and Michael Swaine), as well as tracks from more recent Artists in Residence, who provide perspectives on everything from history, geology, ghosts, nature, wildlife, and time and space in the Headlands. Hott also invited artists to contribute interpretive materials to the installation in the form of self-guided tour pamphlets.

Additionally, The Key Room provides timely information including a roster of current Artists in Residence. All of The Key Room's elements blend together the past and present and, at times, the real and fictional, to form a unique and evocative interpretation of place.

Object information drawing for “Container”, Headlands Open House, Spring 2015.
Temporary installation “Light”, Archive objects, Fall 2014.
Project Space installation, Summer 2014.

Carrie Hott is an interdisciplinary artist based in the Bay Area. Her practice spans a wide range of media including drawing, installation, video, and multi-media presentations and tours. Through her practice, Hott works to find origins, connect tangents, and locate invisible histories for the environments we live in and the systems that structure our lives. Frequent themes in her work include the history of artificial light, blackouts, and whales. Hott grew up in Arizona before moving to the Bay Area. She received her BFA from Arizona State University and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Carrie Hott in her studio.

The Key Room is made possible with direct support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Bernard Osher Foundation, The Sakana Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and our members.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts