Welcome to the Springfield Township High School Art Blog. The purpose of this forum is to inspire discourse surrounding your artistic experiences while building writing skills, exercising your art vocabulary, and refining descriptive language relating to art. In your writing, you may choose to discuss museum and gallery exhibitions, publications, articles, professional works, student works, or responses to each other’s ideas and investigations. Additionally, participants may want to pose questions or react to artistic predicaments, sharing the trials, frustrations, solutions, or the general excitement we feel when we make or look at art.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

James Turrell's Skyspace

Right above the Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill, Pa. is the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House.  Although it is a place for worship, it is also the home of artist James Turrell's  "Skyspace."  The building was recently constructed and features a roof which slides back, allowing the sky to appear through a rectangular opening in the ceiling.

Turrell had LED lights arranged around the base of the ceiling, projecting varying hue gradations upon its eggshell white surface.  As the colors slowly fade into each other one notices the contrast between the ceiling color and the color of the sky above.  At times your perception makes you think the sky is changing its hue.  Turrell has several exhibitions like this around the country.  We are fortunate to have one so close to Springfield High School.

Now, some of you may remember the way you were taught about color contrasts.  A red rectangle of paper was placed on a white piece of paper and you were told to stare at the center or the paper.  After a brief time the rods and cones in your eyes were saturated with the color, and if you closed your eyes, you would see a greenish after image; the opposite of red.  Also, as you were staring at the color, you would notice bright glowing contrasts at the edge of the paper as your eyes shifted their gaze.  The white surface of the paper was affected by the perceived opposite afterimage.  These color contrasts are what Turrell uses to his advantage.

"Skyscape" changes as the light changes.  The meeting house is open at dawn and dusk for this event.  I saw it for the first time on a grey cloudy evening.  This allowed me to perceive warm and cool colors of grey as I stared at the rectangle of sky.  As night approached the value contrast between lit ceiling and dark sky increased.  Sunrise, sunset, and variable atmospheric conditions all change the experience.

"Skyscape" is free at the Chestnut Hill location, although donations are accepted.  Tickets can be ordered online as seating is limited.  First time viewers should consider bringing a yoga mat and small pillow.  It is an hour long event and your neck can get pretty stiff staring at the ceiling.  If you get there a half and hour early you'll get a good seat/position, though center floor will probably be occupied by a more frequent visitor.  It is a silent, meditative atmosphere, so turn off the cell phones and leave the toddlers at home.  If you snore, take along a friend to wake you.  If interested check out the links below.