About the Skyspace

Photo: Greg Benson

Greet the Light

The Chestnut Hill Skyspace, Greet the Light, is a permanent art installation designed by the artist James Turrell and is part of the Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse. A Skyspace is a room created with an opening, or aperture, in the ceiling where viewers see the sky. There are over ## Skyspaces around the world each unique to their surroundings and purpose. The Skyspace at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse features cove lighting which James Turrell designed to interact with natural light creating a magical sequence that challenges our perceptions of light, color, and space. Greet the Light is timed specifically to correlate with the rising or setting of the sun, when the light in our world changes most dramatically. Every experience is different. The Skyspace is open to the public at designated times every week throughout the year, weather permitting, but not during Sunday worship services.

Local artist Stuart Shils, a frequent visitor to the Skyspace, has this to say about this installation: “Skyspace in Chestnut Hill is like taking an hour’s departure from all that is familiar, and stepping deliciously into another world of the mind and senses. Yet it isn’t another world at all, but perhaps a carefully shaped portal that takes us deeper into our own world, slowly and powerfully, in a way that good art is capable of achieving. Yes, Skyspace is a work of art, but not like conventional painting or sculpture. Here, we are required to give ourselves up, to make the commitment for an hour to unplug, slow down and disengage from everything outside the Meetinghouse doors and, as the Beatles described in the 60’s, “drift downstream.” One doesn’t go there to ’observe‘ an object as in a museum experience, but to be connected to an expanding moment, to be part of the flow of time and light. I know, if you haven’t yet been there yet this sounds mystical and in a way it is. The experience of Skyspace is very different from most of what we encounter in the course of a day, and for me akin to having some kind of very extreme sensory and cerebral shower from which I emerge reconstructed, refocused and full of joy.” 

While that’s one artist’s view, everyone who visits takes away their own impression of this mesmerizing work.  You have to see it yourself to experience a James Turrell Skyspace. 

Turrell forbids publishing photos of the actual Skyspace aperture, these pics of the walls and ceiling towards the end of our piece give an idea of the intensely beautiful light that saturates the room.

The Design

Located between Mt. Airy & Chestnut Hill in Northwest Philadelphia, the Skyspace at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting offers visitors from all walks of life a place of peace.

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