WHYY's ArtWorks draws on performing and visual arts stories from its sister PBS stations to bring viewers a geographically diverse arts experience.



Featured Artists: James Turrell, James DeRosso, Momo and Kaharu, and The Day of the Dead

Explore the art of light and space, check out one sculptor’s whimsical take on monsters, see two sisters from the East draw inspiration from world music, and learn how some Latino artists mark the Day of the Dead.

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Episode Highlights:

James Turrell

James Turrell was born in Los Angeles in 1943. His undergraduate studies at Pomona College focused on psychology and mathematics; only later, in graduate school, did he pursue art, receiving an MFA from the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California. Turrell’s work involves explorations in light and space that speak to viewers without words, impacting the eye, body, and mind with the force of a spiritual awakening. “I want to create an atmosphere that can be consciously plumbed with seeing,” says the artist, “like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire.” Informed by his studies in perceptual psychology and optical illusions, Turrell’s work allows us to see ourselves “seeing.” Whether harnessing the light at sunset or transforming the glow of a television set into a fluctuating portal, Turrell’s art places viewers in a realm of pure experience.

Situated near the Grand Canyon and Arizona’s Painted Desert is Roden Crater, an extinct volcano the artist has been transforming into a celestial observatory for the past thirty years. Working with cosmological phenomena that have interested man since the dawn of civilization and have prompted responses such as Stonehenge and the Mayan calendar, Turrell’s crater brings the heavens down to earth, linking the actions of people with the movements of planets and distant galaxies. His fascination with the phenomena of light is ultimately connected to a very personal, inward search for mankind’s place in the universe. Influenced by his Quaker faith, which he characterizes as having a “straightforward, strict presentation of the sublime,” Turrell’s art prompts greater self-awareness through a similar discipline of silent contemplation, patience, and meditation. His ethereal installations enlist the common properties of light to communicate feelings of transcendence and the divine. The recipient of several prestigious awards, such as Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, Turrell lives in Arizona.


“I want to create an atmosphere that can be consciously plumbed with seeing, like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire.”

James Turrell


  • James Turrell, Space That Sees

    James Turrel’s “Space That Sees” in the Israel Museum Jerusalem. Photo credit: Wikipedia


James DeRosso

When artist James DeRosso decided to shift his focus from plates and bowls to small monsters, he began to gain attention for his self-taught work. DeRosso’s ceramic creations have delighted fans of all ages. His work has been featured at the Oregon County Fair, Clay Fest and the Wildfire Pottery Showcase. In this episode of ArtWorks, DeRosso makes a monster cookie jar, shows off his drawings and hosts an adult monster party.


“I’m enjoying the whole monster making niche and the kind of people that are attracted to it are the best part of it.”

James DeRosso


Momo and Kaharu

The Orange Show in Houston, Texas is a unique performance art event paying homage to the humble fruit. When sisters Momo and Kaharu swung through Texas, it was the perfect venue to find out what’s shaking in Tokyo.


Day of the Dead

At the beginning of every November, Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is celebrated around the world. This traditional Mexican and Central American holiday is celebrated in Las Vegas, Nevada with a special festival. It features artists who have crafted traditional and alternative altars to honor deceased loved ones.

  • Day of the Dead at Springs Preserve

    Day of the Dead festival at Springs Preserve



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