Sky's the limit for Chestnut Hill art space

TERRY FOSS / FOR THE DAILY NEWS The Skyspace at Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse is the latest program to partner with Art-Reach, a nonprofit for the underserved.
TERRY FOSS / FOR THE DAILY NEWS The Skyspace at Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse is the latest program to partner with Art-Reach, a nonprofit for the underserved.
Posted: April 24, 2014

SOME FOLKS have literally seen the world in a new light, thanks to an art installation in Chestnut Hill.

The Skyspace at Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse last week played host to Art-Reach, a nonprofit group that aims to connect underserved audiences - including those with physical and mental handicaps and people from lower-income communities - to the arts.

And, according to one of the organization's leaders, the visit has received rave reviews.

"The concept of slow art, a very meditative process that you go through and experience, had a really special resonance for them," said Marion Young, executive director of Art-Reach. "It was unlike anything they would experience in arts or life in general."

Describing the Skyspace in words is somewhat challenging - it really is something you need to see to fully grasp.

But let us try.

Essentially, it's a skylight that gives its viewers a clear view of the air above them. Designed by California artist James Turrell, the Skyspace is best viewed at either dawn or dusk, when the light in the sky is at its "most dynamic," according to Nikka Landau, who helped coordinate the installation's opening in October.

Viewers of the Skyspace are aided by LED lights installed near the opening, which enhance the sky's natural light and create vivid colors.

The experience lasts about an hour, a length of time that can be difficult for some of the groups with which Art-Reach works.

"Slowness can be challenging, but it's really no different than going to a play or an opera," Young said. "It possesses this beauty and stillness, which can be really rare in our lives."

The experience was therapeutic for the Art-Reach group, which is already making plans for future trips.

"The arts can expand horizons so much in terms of how people perceive lives," Young said. "On a basic level, they improve your quality of life and give you inspiration.

"The Skyspace is just one example of something that creates that inspiration."

And, to hear Landau tell it, that reaction is exactly the kind the Meetinghouse sought when it commissioned the piece.

"We want it to not be a religious space exclusively," she said. "We envisioned it as a space for everyone, where the community could gather and grow stronger."

Since October, the Skyspace has attracted visitors from around the world, including both art-industry experts and newbies.

The Meetinghouse has even served as a venue for two weddings, with a third planned for June - Landau and her fiance are getting hitched there.

"The appeal here is that it can speak to anyone; you don't have to know anything about art to be able to take it in," Landau said.


On Twitter: @Vellastrations

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