Nestled into the new garden on the Walker’s expanded campus is an underground pathway that leads visitors into a modest square chamber. Sky Pesher, 2005 (2005) by American artist James Turrell is a freestanding room-size structure with a 16-square-foot aperture at the apex of its curving white ceiling. Influenced by his studies in perceptual psychology and optical illusion, Turrell is known for working with light and space to orchestrate installations that he calls Skylights, Skyspaces, and Perceptual Cells. In this piece, the artist combines natural and artificial light through computer-controlled sensors activated minutes before sunrise and sunset to create a captivating optical effect that evokes our most profound contemplation of light. What unfolds next is the illusion that the architecture of the space slowly vanishes as it becomes saturated with light and color, making it appear infinitely deep and closer to us—an effect Turrell refers to as “bringing the sky down.” In this treat for the senses, the artist seizes a universal concept—perception—and presents its most individualistic, personal nature. With heads tilted up and eyes fixed on the sky above, visitors can simply sit, relax, and experience the extraordinary.
Interior view of James Turrell’s Sky Pesher, 2005, 2005
Collection Walker Art Center; Commissioned with funds from the Frederick R. Weisman Collection of Art, 2005
Photo: ©2005 Paul Warchol