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Walking into a work by James Turrell forces you to scrutinize the environment around you since there is so little to look at except light and color. But then the perceptive viewer will quickly realize how much there is to actually examine.

Framing light, Turrell’s work can feel effortless but its impact on our perception can be profound.

“We don’t normally look at light, we’re generally looking at something light reveals,” Turrell says. “For me, it is important the people come to value light. To value light as we value gold, silver, paintings, objects.”

The artist admits that it took him a while to be able to work with light and value its physical presence and you can see his comfort in manipulating our experience of light in his built environments like “Meeting” (1986) at MoMA PS1 or “Second Meeting” (1989) in Los Angeles, which is featured in the Art21 video.

“This is a space where I want to bring the space of the sky down to the top of the space you’re in, so you really feel to be at the bottom of an ocean of air,” he says.

This exclusive video and many more are featured in Art21′s 100 Artistswhich celebrates the iconic artists that have been a part of the television series throughout it’s first six seasons. Discover all 100 artists at

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.