Artist James Turrell went searching for a site for a special work.
In 1974 he flew over the Roden Crater in Northern Arizona and decided he had found what he was looking for, and in 1977 was finally able to acquire the property on which the crater was located.
‘I spent seven months flying the western states, looking for suitable sites. I slept under the wing of the plane most nights and stayed at a motel once a week. Every site that I saw was generating new ideas. In Arizona I was flying over the northern part of the San Francisco Peaks volcano field. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and the sun was about to set. All the craters were lit with this beautiful rose colored, side-raking light. Roden Crater was highlighted with this light and I landed near it. I walked up into it and thought—this is it.’ – James Turrell on how he found Roden Crater from the Roden Crater Facebook Page.
Since that time Turrell has been planning, designing and building his Roden Crater Project. Turrell’s work has always played with sensory perception and relies very much on the experiences of the viewer – of light, and the sky in particular – so these insertions into this incredible landscape will be a culmination of his lifetime investigation into those ideas and will be his ultimate exploration into heightening the viewer’s experience of light and the sky.
A quote from the Roden Crater Website states:
‘Roden Crater is a gateway to the contemplation of light, time and landscape. It is the magnum opus of James Turrell’s career, a work that, besides being a monument to land art, functions as a naked eye observatory of earthly and celestial events that are both predictable and continually in flux. Constructed to last for centuries to come, Roden Crater links the physical and the ephemeral, the objective with the subjective, in a transformative sensory experience.’
The crater has a number of tunnels and spaces oriented to different parts of the sky. The first 6 have been completed – the Crater Bowl, Alpha (East) Tunnel, Sun | Moon Chamber, East Portal, and the Crater’s Eye. When complete, there will be 21 viewing spaces and six tunnels.
Alpha (East) Tunnel
Sun | Moon Chamber
The project is not yet complete and not yet open to the public however some fundraising events have been held with ArtNews reporting on 19 February 2015 about one such event.
There is also short film about James Turrell’s Roden Crater. The film was commissioned by LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) on the occasion of the exhibition “James Turrell: A Retrospective” on view at LACMA from May 26, 2013 through April 6, 2014.