While James Turrell: The Light Inside is one of three concurrent exhibitions of Turrell’s work on view this summer across the country, the exhibition in Houston seems almost like a homecoming for an artist who has carved out several meditative spaces in this otherwise hectic city.
It’s easy to make an entire day of enjoying Turrell’s work here in town, whether you’re a visitor or a Houstonian who has never gotten around to all these (free) sights:
Sunrise: Twilight Epiphany, Rice University
Every day, Turrell’s pyramid-like structure on the Rice University campus is lit from beneath with artificial light that plays against the natural light of the dawn, which you can watch shift and change through the cutout in the roof. (I’m a late sleeper myself, so I’m lucky they also have the light sequence at sunset!)
Daytime: James Turrell: The Light Inside, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Like Twilight Epiphany, the works in this exhibition use light to play with your perceptions. Light feels alternately voluminous and weightless in the installations, drawn from the Museum's art collections. The title The Light Inside might already be familiar, as Turrell’s work of that name has been a prominent feature of the MFAH since the installation opened in 2000. It’s easy to forget that this quiet space linking the Beck and Law buildings is directly beneath the traffic-filled commotion of Main Street.
Sunset: One Accord, Live Oak Friends Meeting House
Nestled in the Heights, this Quaker meeting house hosts one of Turrell’s “Skyspaces,” which, like Twilight Epiphany, consists of a ceiling aperture and a space to observe how the sky’s natural light feels like a calming, physical presence. The meeting house recently experienced flood damage from a broken pipe, so One Accord is not open to the public until the damage has been repaired. Regular hours (every Friday evening and the first Sunday evening of the month) resume upon the reopening.
“Houston has always been tremendously engaged with James Turrell, and I almost think of him as a Houston artist, although that really isn't the case.” —Gary Tinterow, MFAH director