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Roden Crater. Photo: James Turrell. Click above for more images.
Roden Crater. Photo: James Turrell. Click above for more images.

Kanye West Donates $10 Million to James Turrell’s Roden Crater Project

Rapper Kanye West announced today that he plans to gift $10 million to the Turrell Art Foundation in support of the unfinished Roden Crater project, artist James Turrell’s ambitious land artwork—an extinct volcano in the Painted Desert near Flagstaff, Arizona, that he has been transforming into a series of rooms and tunnels since the 1970s.

Kelly Crow of the Wall Street Journal reports that West visited Roden Crater with Turrell on December 11, an experience that the musician called “life-changing.” West also toured the seventy-five-year-old artist’s Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition “Into the Light” on December 27. In a statement issued by West today, he said that he decided to contribute to the project so that it could be “experienced and enjoyed for eternity.”

In response, Turrell said that he was “thrilled” to receive such a major gift at a ”critical juncture of the project.” He is currently working with Arizona State University (ASU) to fundraise $200 million in order to help him realize his vision and open the site to the public in the next five years. The artist aims to turn the 2.5-mile-wide crater into a cultural hub that will eventually feature an amphitheater and host a residency program.

This spring, the university, which will serve as a long-term steward of the site, will bring more than eighty faculty members and students to the crater as part of a pilot program. It hopes to eventually fully integrate the project into the academic curriculum of its Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, School of Sustainability, School of Earth and Space Exploration, and School of Social Transformation.

“It is our intention to work with partners across the state and country to complete, preserve, and share one of Arizona’s and the nation’s most renowned cultural and physical assets,” ASU said in a statement. “An extraordinarily important global art phenomenon, Roden Crater represents an achievement and experience that will meaningfully contribute to the global arts conversation and attract visitors from around the world.”