Many of his most recent works are conceptualized as studies for the crater, particularly the aperture pieces, the dark spaces and the Skyspaces.
Roden Crater is a natural cinder volcano situated on the southeastern edge of the Painted Desert in northern Arizona. Since 1979, James Turrell has been transforming Roden Crater into a large-scale work of art that functions as a naked-eye observatory, allowing visitors to view celestial phenomena. The approaches Turrell takes to light and space in his installation works are the same as those he undertakes for the Roden Crater project. James Turrell is one of the most celebrated American artists working today. Born in California in 1943, he grew up with an enduring love of aviation and the sky, as well as a fascination with light. His Quaker background also substantially formed his approach to life and art, with its emphasis on silent access to the "light within." From age six, Turrell was urged by his grandmother to "go inside and greet the light" at Quaker meetings. In the early 1960's, Turrell studied perceptual psychology at Pomona College, taking additional classes in other scientific disciplines, such as mathematics, geology and astronomy.