James Turrell’s Skyspace “Greet the Light”

I recently visited a permanent art installation in the greater Philadelphia area of Chestnut Hill at the Quaker Friends Meeting .  The installation, titled Greet the Light, is a Skyspace, or a room “with an aperture in the ceiling” according to the space’s website, in which the audience views the sky from inside the building.  Most weekends during dawn or dusk, weather permitted, an eclectic audience of young and old sits in silence to observe and experience the Skyspace opening alongside artist James Turrell’s “cove lighting,” an LED light installation that shifts and controls the perceived color of the room and sky in unison according to the specific time of day.  James Turrell, one of my personal favorites, is an extremely active and prolific installation/conceptual artist, constructing hundreds of structures and pieces in accordance to natural and artificial light, his preferred medium, for over 50 years and counting.

The experience is quite beautiful and almost spiritual as the speed of the shifting lights moves at a geologic pace, inviting the audience to fall into a meditative and introspective stillness.  As the sun slowly sets, the sky becomes green, yellow, purple, and even orange, with the occasionally flock of birds or soaring airplane drifting into the ceiling’s steady scope.  The overall infrastructure of the piece is a simple but subtle manipulation of color, supplying the viewer with just enough visual content in order for the mind to supply its own deeper meaning.  The whole show lasts around 50 minutes or the time it takes for the sun to completely set into the horizon.  All in all, James Turrell’s Skyspace Greet the Light is a relaxing and intimate art piece that allows the viewer to immerse themselves into a unique visual experience found little elsewhere.

For more info on Greet the Light, including directions and registration schedule, visit the Skyspace website.

For more info on James Turrell and his many works, visit his website here.

Unfortunately, James Turrell is a bit strict on others photographing his work and I was not allowed to bring a camera into the installation.  Instead, this sneaky iPhone shot below will link to a short documentary film about James Turrell’s Roden Crater, a massive architectural installation located in Arizona, which you can watch on Vimeo.  Enjoy!


State of Philly, James Turrell, Skyspace

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