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Skyspace by James Turrell '65 at Pomona College

“Dividing the Light,” a Skyspace by James Turrell ’65, is the most recent and perhaps most glowing example of public art on the Pomona College campus. Opened in fall of 2007, the architectural installation heightens the viewer’s awareness of light, sky and the activity of perception.

Called “one of the best works of public art in recent memory” by the Los Angeles Times, Skyspace gathers visitors on benches beneath a metal canopy that frames a window to the sky. As the natural light begins to dim, LED lights bathe the canopy in changing colors, from goldenrod to turquoise. And as the lighting changes, so does the viewer’s perception of that framed sheet of sky. One moment it’s a dreamy lavender, another it’s an ominous tablet of black that seems to hover above on its own accord. A shallow pool centered beneath the opening to the sky mirrors the daytime sky and reflects a dark echo of the night sky.

The lighting programs are keyed to sunset and sunrise. The evening program begins about 25 minutes before sunset and continues for about an hour. Another lighting program begins 100 minutes before sunrise. Between the sunset and sunrise programs the canopy of the Skyspace is illuminated. Every hour on the hour there is a three-minute chime of light. The Skyspace is in the Draper Courtyard of the Lincoln and Edmunds Buildings.

Turrell, known for his work in manipulating light and space, has built several Skyspaces around the world, but this is the only one available for public viewing in Southern California. It’s received recognition in the New York Times and Sunset magazine.

In the aforementioned Los Angeles Times piece, David Pagel wrote: “For nearly 40 years, James Turrell has been making art out of little more than thin air—at least that’s how his indoor and outdoor installations feel when you give yourself over to their dazzling attractions. Think of his super-refined Minimalism as a spa for consciousness: an urbane oasis and thinking citizen’s entertainment center all rolled into one impeccably designed whole that is both elegant and spectacular."