The center of my body, the solar plexus chakra remained warm throughout my visit to Aten Reign (2013) at the Guggenheim Museum a few weeks ago. It was one of the three installations by James Turrell happening simultaneously at the Guggenheim, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the LACMA in LA. The embryonic roundness of the rotunda and the gentle fading and then igniting of pink, purple, red and blue hues maintained the pleasant heat emanating from my center.
My interaction with Turrell's work tends to intersect with the most charged and meaningful relationships of my life. I previously wrote about my visit to Turrell's skyspace where I watched the dawn sky transform laying next to my first love. The last time I crossed Turrell's underground tunnel 'The Light Inside' at the MFAH was with my niece Dezma. We got in trouble taking photos of her in a meditative Buddha position between the dissected neon rectangle. She passed away in March from childhood Leukemia at the age of 11.
I stayed watching the hypnotizing gradients, allowing the flux of memories and physical sensations to wash over me. Most observers stayed with their necks bent back, mouths open to receive the rainbows. Others laid down to open their bodies in full appreciation of sense. I would almost describe it as a spiritual ceremony in the guise of "art." And I think that is exactly what gives Turrell's work such a powerful relevance. It cuts a hole in the ceiling, redirecting your gaze and clearing the way for a much-needed communion with the self.