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to touch the sky

July 6, 2009

[ARTnews] “We award the sky its color,” Turrell told ARTnews during a visit to the Second Wind site. “We learn to perceive—we create what we perceive. And so by extension we shape our reality. This learned perception, which is something we all share, has always intrigued me. It is what I try to capture.”

While explicitly derived from Buddhist and Hindu sacred architecture, Turrell’s Skyspaces—and by extension all his light-based work—can also be seen as an outgrowth of his Quaker upbringing and ongoing observance. Quaker meeting houses are devoid of all religious imagery, with neither altars nor liturgy nor hymns to guide the participants’ attention as they commune in collective silence. Instead, as Turrell’s grandmother explained to him when he was a boy, when attending a Quaker meeting one should “go inside and meet the light.”

“I want people to treasure light the way we treasure gold,” Turrell says. “It happens slowly. The space is made to arrest the light, to apprehend the light. You enter it and remain alert, but you also enter a contemplative state. It means a lot less talk and a lot more silence.” (read)

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