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James Turrell in "Spirituality"

From his Quaker Meeting House to his Roden Crater project, James Turrell has devoted his life to capturing the ethereal properties of light and its powers to evoke transcendence and the sublime. Pursuing his vision at a great sacrifice, Turrell wryly comments “People often ask me how much this crater costs. It cost me two marriages and a relationship.”

This segment focuses on two works in Houston, Texas—an underground tunnel of light and a skyspace in the ceiling of a Friends meetinghouse—in addition to Turrell’s life’s work in Arizona’s remote Painted Desert—Roden Crater.

More information and credits


Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Executive Producer: Susan Dowling. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Production Coordinator: Laura Recht. Researcher: Quinn Latimer & Wesley Miller. Director: Deborah Shaffer. Editor: Kate Taverna. Director of Photography: Bob Elfstrom, Ken Kobland, Joel Shapiro, & Dyanna Taylor. Additional Photography: Chip Nusbaum & Anita Sieff. Assistant Camera: Ulli Bonnekamp, John Griffiths, Glen Piegari, Kipjaz Savoie, & Ben Wolf. Sound: Ray Day, John Fintel, Alan Sawyer, Scott Szabo, J.T. Takagi, & Eric Williams. Gaffer/Grip: Steve Carrillo, Kent Eanes, Dennis Hollyfield, Greg Szabo, & Lieven Van Hulle. Production Assistant: Mark Chevarria, Anya Dehr-Turrell, Chris Dowling, Heather Glass, Melissa Morgan, & Erin Wile. Animation Stand Photographer: Marcos Levy & City Lights. Assistant Avid Editor: Heather Burak & Matt Prinzig.

Introductory Segment | Artwork: Beryl Korot. Cast: S. Epatha Merkerson.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Art Design and Direction: Open, New York. Animation, Visual Effects & Compositing: Spontaneous Combustion. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie & Frame:Runner NYC. Composer: Peter Foley. Music Supervisor: John Yaffé. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, & Dog Bark Sound. Sound Mix: Tony Volante & Soundtrack, New York. Post-Production Supervisor: Michael Weingrad & Keir Randall.

Artworks courtesy of: John Feodorov; Ann Hamilton; Shahzia Sikander; James Turrell; Deitch Projects; Whitney Museum of American Art; Lisa Sette Gallery; Sacred Circle Gallery/Daybreak Star; & Seattle Arts Commission. Archival photo of James Turrell courtesy of: Jeffery J. Kozera. Archival footage courtesy of: ZCZ Films Ltd.

Special Thanks: Anne C. Baker; Alison Beall; Michael Bond; The Brotman Family; William Bush; City Lights; Catherine Dee; Susan Delson; Krista Ferguson; Claudia Garthwait; Barbara Gladstone; Thomas G. Grace; Jill Hartz, Bayly Art Museum; Russell Hassell; Sean Kelly Gallery; Bruce Mac Corkindale; Cara Mertes; Margarita Moreno; Office of Housing, City of Seattle; Chris Pullman; Lyn Bolen Rushton; Sacred Circle Gallery/Daybreak Star; Azra Sikander; Gabe Silverman; Brooke Singer; Skystone Foundation; Tamberelli Video; Nancy Taylor; Darin Webb; & Whitney Museum @ Philip Morris.

Interns: Maytal Ahrony, Joyce Alcantara, Christina Darcy, Leslie Fritz, Johanna Goldfeld, Susannah Gust, Sage Lehman, Kelly McCoy, Genevieve Mercatante, Jeff Seelbach, & Stacy Wu.

Public Relations: Kelly & Salerno Communications. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman.

Major underwriting for Season 1 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by Robert Lehman Foundation, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, The Allen Foundation for the Arts, The Broad Art Foundation, The Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Bagley Wright Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and The Foundation-to-Life.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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James Turrell

James Turrell’s explorations in light and space impact the eye, body, and mind with the force of a spiritual awakening. Informed by his studies in perceptual psychology and optical illusions, Turrell’s work allows us to see ourselves “seeing.” Whether harnessing the light at sunset or transforming the glow of a television set into a fluctuating portal, Turrell’s art places viewers in a realm of pure experience. His fascination with the phenomena of light is ultimately connected to a very personal, inward search for mankind’s place in the universe. Influenced by his Quaker faith, Turrell’s art prompts greater self-awareness through a similar discipline of silent contemplation, patience, and meditation.


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Diana Thater

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“Roden Crater”

James Turrell discusses his ongoing land art piece, Roden Crater, created within a pit formed by an extinct volcano in the Arizona desert.

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