light and space

When I visited Crystal Bridges Museum four years ago, I had a major disappointment. James Turrell’s Skyspace, The Way of Color, was closed for upkeep. I was so sorry to miss seeing and experiencing this work.

For over half a century, James Turrell has worked directly with light and space to create artworks that engage viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception. An avid pilot, he considers the sky as his studio, material and canvas.

I have experienced several Turrell installations.

The Quaker Meeting House in Houston was my first.

Turrell states “I’m interested in the sense of presence of space; that is space where you feel a presence, almost an entity — that physical feeling and power that space can give.”

I have walked the Turrell tunnel at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

Art critic Calvin Tompkins writes, “His work is not about light, or a record of light; it is light — the physical presence of light made manifest in sensory form.”

I’ve sat in the Turrell space at the University of Washington,

turrelllightreignseattleuskyspace

and at Arizona State University.

Each space has transformed me for the period of time I spent in that space.

This morning we woke early and walked to Turrell’s The Way of Color in the dark. We took our seats in the space and awaited dawn.

Over the next hour we sat in the Skyspace, a naked-eye viewing chamber open to the sky. As dawn slowly crept, the space was awash in perpetual color shifts and changing conditions.

Sounds I heard beyond the Skyspace as dawn turned to day: hooting owls, chirping crickets, cheeping birds, people visiting and greeting one another along the trails.

We walked out into a new day, filled with solace, stillness and transformation.

Time to go get coffee.

Note the glass of sparkling water in the photo. It’s an European practice that serves to cleanse one’s palette during the drinking of certain espresso drinks, thus enriching the taste itself.

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