Roden Crater Artist Strikes Deal With ASU To Open Mysterious Space To The Public

Through a newly-formed partnership with artist James Turrell and Arizona State University, a mysterious piece of artwork could soon be experienced by the public. 

Built inside a dormany volcano in northern Arizona, the Roden Crater could be open to the general public in five years.

Through a series of classes this spring, select ASU students will be able to access the area located about 40 miles northeast of Flagstaff in the Painted Desert.

For the last 40 years, Turrell has created spaces that manipulated the light inside the crater.

At 75 years old, Turrell’s work is known and showcased across the world. The Roden Crater is his most-known piece and has the potential to make Arizona a desired location for art enthusiasts worldwide. 

“It is transformative, it is life-changing and it needs to be seen by people,” said Olga Viso, ASU’s senior adviser on global partnerships in the arts.

With nearly a third of the work inside the crater having been completed, Turrell’s plans include over 20 areas that utilize light and space to form pieces of art that lead visitors to contemplate light, landscape and time. 

In order to prepare the crater for the public, ASU, Turrell and The Skystone Foundation (the nonprofit that oversees the crater), are planning on raising $200 million over the next two years. If everything goes according to plan, the crater will become open to the public within five years. 

The partners secured $1.8 million planning grant to look at what work remains, along with when and how the crater will connect to education in Arizona and elsewhere.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that $10 million had been donated to the project by rapper Kanye West. West has recently traveled to see some of Turrell’s works.

Ownership of the crater will remain with Skystone and the James Turrell Art Foundation.

ASU won’t use any tuition dollars or state funds for the crater project, the university said. Instead, all money will come from private philanthropy.