James Turrell: Light Artist

James Turrell purchased land where this 400,000 year old crater sits near Flagstaff, Arizona called Roden Crater.  He has spent over 30 years constructing his “naked-eye observatory”, with underground access through chambers and tunnels below the surface of the crater.  He received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Dia Art Foundation and others to fund his project.  His intention is to view “light as a physical presence, a material in its own right, not just something that illuminates the rest of the world”.  Visitors will be viewing the light through 2 large portals toward the sky, or watching the light gather into the chambers beneath the crater transforming them into visual wonders.  One chamber has a huge slab of white marble, with the intent being to provide a white surface beneath the earth to view full images of the sun and moon.  With its skyward portals, it will serve as a place to observe celestial happenings for thousands of years in the future.  The Roden Crater has plans to open in 2012.

View an interview with James Turrell on PBS.


  1. Thank you for contributing Josie. Turrell’s work is very interesting.

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