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Good sports: Rice to redo lighting to let Turrell Skyspace shine

October 09, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • James Turrell's work at Pomona College in 2007.
James Turrell's work at Pomona College in 2007. (Carlos Puma )

In a rare example of finding a meeting point between fine art and college athletics, the intramural sports field at Rice University will be retooling its lights during the next month in order to conflict less with a James Turrell Skyspace.

The issue with the lights became apparent earlier this year when the field had to be closed to accommodate sunset shows at the university's Turrell Skyspace, which opened to the public in June. The piece uses the light of the sun to create two "shows" at sunrise and sunset that offer visitors a view of the sky on a large white roof over a grass berm through a 14-by-14 opening that changes colors depending on the sun's position.

“The light sequence, because it’s comprised of light, is affected by lights,” Turrell Skyspace manager Emily Stein told the university's student newspaper, the Rice Thresher. She added that the university has been working with a consultant to try to minimize the light spillage into the Skyspace by changing some of the field's lighting fixtures and altering the position of some poles.

Up to now, the Skyspace has been closed to accommodate intramural events. It is currently closed for maintenance and will reopen on Oct. 15.

Born in Pasadena, Turrell is best known for his ongoing work "Roden Crater," which is located just outside Flagstaff, Ariz. Like his Skyspaces, one of which is on view at Pomona College, the crater tweaks the viewer's perception of light using LED lights and enclosed spaces.

In a review of a 2011 show at Santa Monica's Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery, Times contributor Holly Myers wrote, "Gazing directly into the space of the color, with nothing solid for the eye to settle on, one has the sensation of gazing into infinity."


James Turrell: Exhibitionist or artist?

Art review: James Turrell at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

James Turrell on Burning Bridges, part of January's PST Festival

Twitter: @chrisbarton

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