James Turrell’s Skyspace, Houston

James Turrells <em>Skyspace,</em> Houston
Photograph by Casey Dunn

Houston and that brilliant artist of light James Turrell have proved to be an enduring couple, what with the California native’s inspiring work at the Live Oak Friends Meeting house and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. But the Skyspace installation Turrell created to honor Rice University’s centennial is perhaps his most audacious piece yet. The soaring temple, which will be unveiled next to the Shepherd School of Music in mid-June, is designed to function as a music lab for students and features a light show that evokes the arc of the sun as it crosses the heavens and changes color with the seasons, from a soft gold to an electric rose to a nighttime purple. It’s a place both spiritual and sensuous, like the Rothko Chapel, a sacred site. But unlike the chapel, Skyspace’s intimate, secluded interior makes it destined to become the hottest make-out spot on campus, if not in the whole damn town.

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