The international spotlight will shine on the middle school after reflecting off a one-of-a-kind edifice at Rice University and, before that, a volcanic crater in Arizona.
All beams of light have to start somewhere. This particular ray began in mid-March during the gifted and talented annual field trip to Houston.
As part of the itinerary, 20 students and eight adults — thanks to a $500 grant from the Joe Barnhart Foundation — toured the university’s Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion, the home of artist James Turrell’s Skyspace.
Turrell’s artistic discipline is light itself; Skyspace is his palette where he creates an LED light show projected on the elevated roof that includes a 72-square-foot opening at the top for viewing the sky.
Turrell, a MacArthur Fellow in 1984, uses space and light to create optical illusions in his worldwide displays.
At dawn and dusk, his Rice University light show, titled “Twilight Epiphany,” is exactly that for those who view the 40-minute of show of colors that adapt to the changing atmospheric hues as the sun rises and sets.
“It’s a visual meditation,” says Debra Hanus, Moreno’s teacher for gifted and talented students. “The lights projected on the ceiling make the sky that shows through the top of the theater to take on the same color. There is nothing else like it.”
Turrell’s more famous artwork is Roden Crater near Flagstaff, where he has transformed the volcanic crater into an observatory, not for telescopes but for the unaided eye.
To prepare for their Houston visit, Hanus had her students conduct online research about Turrell’s displays in Houston, England, Israel and the Roden Crater.
After their tour, she asked them to use oil pastel crayons to paint their impressions of Turrell’s creations.
Hanus then picked six images from the collection, printed them as gift cards, with envelopes, and sent them to Skyspace manager Emily Stein as a thank-you gift.
The six cards were enclosed in a piece of thick, transparent paper and secured with a maroon ribbon.
Skyspace has returned the favor.
In an email, Stein wrote to Hanus “…my boss, Molly Hubbard (who is the university art director)…asked if you would be willing to send me (all) the images of the drawings made by your students?”
Her request was not based on curiosity.
Skyspace plans to utilize the artworks by the students on its official stationery.
Every piece of correspondence would include one of the student’s paintings.
“These cards would be used for general business correspondence,” Stein wrote, “but would go to our cultural partners around the world.”
“It’s an elegant honor,” Hanus says.
“But I’ve also suggested the students should include it on their resumes.”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com