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James Turrell’s The Color Inside is Hiding in Plain Sight

James Turrell, The Color Inside


This month’s pick isn’t something new, but rather a work that has been around since 2013. James Turrell’s The Color Inside sits in the center of the University of Texas campus, atop the Student Activity Center, and at times can feel as though it’s hiding in plain sight. This winter is a perfect time to visit the transformative installation, a large pod whose interior light — both constructed and natural — is always changing. The real “show” begins in the evenings when the sun is setting. Inside the hushed space there is plenty of seating in the round (though many visitors choose to stand or lie on the floor). Overhead is the oculus, which, when you look up, captures the changing sky as it morphs with the setting sun.

Turrell’s installations, peppered throughout the country, are a source of inspiration for many. Drake has confirmed that his video for “Hotline Bling” was directly inspired by Turrell’s work. Regardless of your take, you can be sure that experiencing Skyspace is quite a different ride than popping into a gallery.

Most fascinating is how many thoughts one can have in the time it takes the sun to set. Maybe this is part of Turrell’s intention, this silent contemplation affected by the changing colors of the sky and LED lights. Maybe not. An hour at sunset in the Skyspace is time very, very well spent, with the light and experience changing moment to moment. But as the great LeVar Burton says, “You don’t have to take my word for it!”

The Color Inside

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