Kanye West Donates $10 Million to James Turrell's Northern Arizona Crater Project

Kanye West performs at American Airlines Arena in Miami on September 16, 2016.
Kanye West performs at American Airlines Arena in Miami on September 16, 2016.
George Martinez / Miami New Times
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Kanye West is donating $10 million to artist James Turrell's foundation for his monumental work, The Roden Crater Project.

Turrell began work on the art project in 1974 at the extinct volcano crater in northern Arizona, 25 miles northeast of Flagstaff. Since then the artist has been shaping the interior and exterior of the crater into an artwork "that relates, through the medium of light, to the universe of the surrounding sky, land, and culture," according to the project's website.

While the project is incomplete and closed off to the public, artists, and researchers, and those who have either contributed directly to the foundation or supported the project through other means have been able to visit the site.

West visited the project on December 13, 2018, and tweeted "This is life changing. We all will live in Turrell spaces." While West might have made a stop at the project, he hasn't set stopped in Arizona to perform since 2015, when he headlined the last day of the now-defunct Summer Ends Festival. West skipped Phoenix on his cross-country Saint Pablo Tour in 2016, which ended with his hospitalization.

Phoenix New Times spoke to Turrell himself about the project — for which more than 1.3 million cubic yards of earth have been excavated and moved — in an article entitled "This Old Crater," published in 1999. "I've always wanted to make light something that you treasure," Turrell told New Times, "not just light reflected in glass, or in a scrim, or on the surface of some object. But light objectified."

According to the article, because the work is such a massive construction project, Coconino County had to add a "land art" category to its building code in order to accommodate it. Work on The Roden Crater Project will continue into the foreseeable future, and unless you're like Kanye with several million dollars to spare, it's possible you won't be able to experience the work anytime soon. 

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