“In age of consumerism and materialism, I traffic in blue sky and colored air.”

– James Turrell 



Set in the stark beauty of the Painted Desert in Arizona, the Rodeo Crater project is a bold experiment in perceptual art that draws its power from the very elements of nature. One of a handful of West Coast artists who in the mid-1960s began to use light as a medium, Jim Turrell became captivated by the optical effects he observed while flying his private aircraft over the desert.

Turrell began searching for an environment in the desert that could become a kind of peephole into the kaleidoscopic interplay of earth, light, and space. Thus began the Rodeo Crater Project, which is still under construction.


Florian Holzherr; ©️James Turrell


EAST PORTAL ©2023 Skystone Foundation; © James Turrell


“My desire is to set up a situation to which I take you and let you see. It becomes your experience.” – James Turrell 


One begins at the house located outside the rim of the volcanic crater. Apertures in the structure create “light sculptures” in the chamber and other optical effects, while the elevated walkway outside provides an observation point to view the subtle changes in light and space that play across the desert. To enter the crater one walks through one-fourth-mile-long tunnel that gently ascends so that the rim of the crater is always visible at the end of the tunnel. Emerging from the tunnel, one is struck by how the sky seems to have been transformed into a celestial volt.


CRATER´S EYE, ©2023 Skystone Foundation; © James Turrell


SUN | MOON CHAMBER, ©2023 Skystone Foundation; © James Turrell


“I’m working to bring celestial objects like the sun and moon into the spaces that we inhabit.” – James Turrell 


CRATER BOWL, ©2023 Skystone Foundation; © James Turrell







I highly recommend watching this Roden Crater introductory short film below:


Article text is taken from the book Fantastic Architecture