In February 2011, I went on a color-finding trip to Japan looking for new contemporary art and architecture. Of course I had to go to Naoshima, an island in the Inland Sea of Japan. Located in the cultural heart of historic downtown Naoshima near temples and shrines, Minanidera is a new structure created by architect Tadao Ando to house the work of color lighting artist, James Turrell. Ando also built the new Chichu Museum and Turrell has several pieces that reside in the museum near some of Monet’s exquisite Water Lilies. Both structures become more than buildings, they house the space and filtered colored light that inhabits them inside and outside. You enter Turrell’s spaces in total blindness and feel around until your eyes become used to the almost complete darkness and thin cool color mist of light. It is at once a spiritual and an unsettling experience. One is mesmerized by the depth of the heavenly space that is totally created by colored light and air. Dan Flavin, Pieter Vermeersch, Olafur Eliasson are some of the artists who have worked in colored light.

Barbara Arlen teaches SXC 100: Color Theory and Culture, SXC 110: Color Discovery Interactive Workshop, SXC 260:Color Painting Studio, and SXF 840: Career Opportunities for Working with Color.


  1. If I may add my two cents, Minanidera is located in “downtown” Honmura. Naoshima is the name of the island, not of any of the towns on this island.
    Glad you liked it though.

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