James Turrell (born May 6, 1943) is an American artist primarily concerned with light and space. Turrell was a MacArthur Fellow in 1984. Turrell is best known for his work in progress, Roden Crater, a natural cinder cone crater located outside Flagstaff, Arizona that he is turning into a massive naked-eye observatory.
Turrell's work deals predominantly with creating spaces that challenge both the viewer's physical and psychological perception of the world, often using lighting with fixed durations or concealed light, empty space, silence, and darkness. He studied psychology and mathematics at Pomona College in Claremont California from 1962-1965, and took a course in fine art at the University of California, Irvine from 1965-1966. His first works were set up in studio or exhibition spaces, where he created geometric shapes on bare walls using cross-projected halogen lights. Many of his works were to reach beyond the gallery, and in 1977 he purchased the Roden Crater, and extinct volcano in Flagstaff, Arizona. Scheduled to be completed in 2002, the work will lead the viewer inside the crater and through a series of walkways and staircases to rooms that feature different ways to view the crater and sky above, emphasizing, the space, stillness, and silence of nature.