An appreciation of James Turrell’s “Dividing the Light”

James Turrell’s skyspace, "Dividing the Light,” pictured at Pomona College in 2007. Photo by Florian Holzherr

by Janice Hoffmann

Local, free, and famous, that’s James Turrell’s “Dividing the Light,” one of over 80 “skyspaces” worldwide that demand the participant-observer look overhead to a naked, unadorned sky and allow their eyes to be tricked by light changing on the surrounding structure.

You could travel to 15 states within the U.S. or over a dozen cities throughout South America, Europe, and Asia to see a Turrell skyspace. You could fly to Australia and on to Hobart, Tasmania, before taking a ferry to an island to the Museum of Old and New Art; you could go to Green Mountain Falls, Colorado (pop. 641) and schedule a three-mile hike into the mountains; or you could just take a walk in Claremont on to the Pomona College campus at dawn or sunset and find your way to a cul-de-sac a block east of College Avenue on Seventh Street.


James Turrell’s skyspace, “Dividing the Light,” pictured at Pomona College in 2007. Photo by Florian Holzherr


“The lighting programs are keyed to sunset and sunrise,” reads Pomona College’s website. “The evening program begins about 25 minutes before sunset and continues for approximately one hour. The sunrise lighting program begins 100 minutes before sunrise. Between the sunset and sunrise programs the canopy of the Skyspace is illuminated. Every hour on the hour, there is a brief (3 minute) chime of light.”

What’s in store for you? Here are the words of Pikes Peak Region Poet Laureate Ashley Cornelius on the occasion of the opening of the most recent skyspace in Green Mountain Falls:

I dare you to look up when you enter the Skyspace.
Embrace a new perspective.
Live fully in the present moment.
Ceremoniously disrobe your preconceived notions.
Leave them at the door and walk into curiosity.
Turn your head for the universe that is aching to connect.
Lean back and formally introduce yourself
to a world that exists right above us.
Invite those who have not yet dared to dream
to step into the artistry of their imagination.
I dare you to look up and imagine a world of your own.

The public is invited to visit “Dividing the Light” anytime. For groups of 10 or more, please contact the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College at or (909) 621-8283. Please note that food and drink are not permitted in the skyspace. Pomona College asks visitors to respect the space and the quiet enjoyment of other visitors.



    Errata: SkySpace is a block east of College Avenue on Seventh Street, not a block from Indian Hill.


      Thanks for the heads up. We have since corrected the story.

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