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Press Release

Laine Towey

For immediate release:
February 7, 2003

Contemporary Artist James Turrell to Speak at Carnegie Mellon University

PITTSBURGH—James Turrell, called "one of the most significant contemporary artists on the international scene" by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will appear at Carnegie Mellon on March 12, 2003. Turrell will be speaking on "Plato's Cave and the Light Within" and his creative process, at 7:30 p.m. at Carnegie Mellon's McConomy Auditorium in the University Center. The talk is co-presented by the Mattress Factory, The Center for the Arts in Society and Carnegie Mellon's School of Art.

"James Turrell gives quiet glory to the not-so-simple act of perception so that we may revel in a wonderful mix of apprehension, contemplation, recognition and admiration," says Susanne Slavick, the head of Carnegie Mellon's School of Art.

A major exhibition of Turrell's work, "James Turrell: Into the Light," is currently on display at the Mattress Factory and will be exhibited until Apr. 30. The Mattress Factory exhibition includes a rare opportunity to view the largest variety of Turrell's work since his 1976 show at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. "Into the Light" features eight new installations created by Turrell, and explores his investigation of light, space and perception. The works range from smaller projections of light, to rooms filled with light, to small-scale displays of Turrell's most ambitious endeavor, the Roden Crater project (

The 300,000 year-old crater is located in Arizona, and Turrell's goal is to turn it into a natural observatory, as well as a place for viewers to question their own perceptions about light and space. This transformation has turned into a lifelong project for Turrell, who has excavated almost 1.2 million yards of earth in the 20 years he's spent working on it.

"Into the Light" also features Turrell's "Milk Run," "Unseen Blue," "Big Red" and "DanaŽ," among others. Each installation challenges the viewer's perception of light and shape. The exhibit also features "Gasworks," another major, interactive installation piece. "Gasworks" is a 12-foot fiberglass sphere that can only be entered by one person at a time. During a 10-minute display of colors and lights, the viewer experiences a Ganzfeldča complete loss of depth perception.

The Mattress Factory also has three permanent Turrell installations in addition to the exhibition. "It's wonderful to have a place like the Mattress Factory continue with my work, and take such good care of it," says Turrell.

Turrell's lecture on March 12 will be followed by a reception. Reservations are not required for the event; however, please arrive early due to limited seating. For more information, please contact Andi Georgiana, assistant to the director of Carnegie Mellon's Center for the Arts in Society, at 412-268-5279 or

The Center for the Arts in Society is a multidisciplinary research and education center that brings together scholars from the humanities, social sciences and arts who are interested in studies of culture and society, and the history and production of the arts. It is a collaboration between the College of Fine Arts and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The Mattress Factory is a research and development lab for artists that commissions new site-specific works in a wholly supportive environment for artists. Located on Pittsburgh's North Side since 1977, the Mattress Factory is hailed as the best facility for installation art in the United States. Children are always free, and Thursdays are free to adults. For more information about the Mattress Factory and the museum's 25th Anniversary exhibition "James Turrell: Into the Light" please contact the museum at 412-231-3169 or visit


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