James Turrell '65 to Receive National Medal of Arts

"Light and Space Artist James Turrell '65 to Receive 2013 National Medal of Arts," by Cynthia Peters, Pomona College News

James Turrell ’65, an internationally renowned light and space artist, will be awarded the 2013 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony on July 28.

Known for his groundbreaking visual art, Turrell captures the powers of light and space, building experiences that force viewers to question reality, challenging their perceptions not only of art, but also of the world around them, noted yesterday’s announcement.

“Since his days as an undergraduate psychology major,” notes an article in Popular Science, Turrell’s “been carefully exploring and manipulating the ways people’s eyes and brains process light and space, reminding us that on a fundamental level, everything we see is illusion.”

Turrell’s Skyspace “Dividing the Light,” located on Pomona’s campus, gathers visitors beneath a canopy that frames a window to the sky. At dusk and dawn, a lighting program bathes the canopy in changing colors, altering the viewer’s perception of the sky as a shallow pool mirrors the daytime sky and reflects a dark echo of the night sky.