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Magic in the Skyspace

An interior view of the Skyspace during the evening display.

An interior view of the James Turrell's Skyspace at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, during the evening display.

Hi, my name is Tim and I’m a volunteer. I love volunteering at Crystal Bridges. I love the art, the architecture, the nature, and mostly, I love the opportunity to meet people. The opportunity to interact with so many interesting people, whether they are our guests, staff members, or my fellow volunteers, is the main reason I volunteer my time at the Museum.

James Turrell's Skyspace, "The Way of Color," on Crystal Bridges' Art Trail.

James Turrell’s Skyspace, “The Way of Color,” on Crystal Bridges’ Art Trail.

It’s difficult to say which volunteering role I enjoy the most, because each role is unique, but serving as a Skyspace facilitator is very special to me. Seeing the faces of our guests as James Turrell’s color-play alters their perception of the natural sky never grows old for me. Watching a group of guests develop a common bond of wonder and discovery is a phenomenon unique to the Turrell Skyspace experience and is a privilege to observe.

About a year ago, as Easter approached, I was facilitating a Friday sunset at Skyspace. The weather was warm and the dogwoods were in bloom, so we had a nice size group in attendance. Before Turrell’s experience, The Way of Color, begins, I always invite guests to stand in the center of the installation to experience a unique acoustical property of the building.

An interior view of the Skyspace during the evening display.

An interior view of the Skyspace during the evening display.

If you’re unfamiliar with the acoustical effect I’m referring to, it’s difficult to describe, but when one stands in the center of the Skyspace and speaks, your voice takes on a rich and deep timbre that is only discernible to the speaker and anyone else standing near the center. This too, always causes our guests (and me) to smile in amazement.

That night, we had a few guests who did not shy from my invitation. Those few stood in the center and took turns shouting, “Hello!” or something similar. A small group of friends tried hard to coax one of their friends to try out this acoustical trick, but he was reluctant to do so and begged off. After The Way of Color presentation concluded and most of the guests had filed out of the Skyspace, this group lingered. As I went about my closing responsibilities, these folks made their way to the center of Skyspace. Standing with his friends in that circle of black sand, the man who was reluctant to participate earlier suddenly began to sing.

This guest sang a rendition of “Amazing Grace” that was, well…amazing!  I couldn’t help but join this group in the center so I could enjoy the full acoustical effect. Our guest sang all six stanzas of the song beautifully. I knew then why his friends were anxious for him to participate. I still feel a flood of emotion when I recall this memory:  a beautiful memory that I would not have, had I not been in the Skyspace that evening.

I hope to see you in the galleries and on the trails!

1 Comment

  1. […] walked there through the Compton Gardens, with lots of sculpture (including Skyspace— Shawn-Laree is checking it out below) and natural […]

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