The Commission

  • Photo by Paul Hester

Suzanne Deal Booth, Patron

"The Skyspace will contribute to Rice students and all who visit here as a source of contemplation, interaction and wonder. It will ideally become a part of their daily life—an everyday experience—as I fully believe art, rather than being contained, constrained and rarified, should be about discovering the special and sublime in our everyday lives."
– Rice University Alumna, Trustee, and Skyspace Patron, Suzanne Deal Booth ‘77

“Twilight Epiphany” a Skyspace by American artist James Turrell, represents a major milestone in Rice Public Art’s recent efforts to bring site-specific artworks to the Rice University campus. Propelling the public art initiative has been an important part of President David Leebron’s, “A Vision For Rice University’s Second Century,” that includes a 10-point plan for the future. In this Call to Conversation, President Leebron both echoes and builds upon the founding vision of Edgar Odell Lovett.

Sharing this vision is alumna, Trustee and Art Committee member, Suzanne Deal Booth, who has a long history with Rice. Deal Booth’s involvement began when she was an art history student at Rice and assisted art collector and philanthropist Dominique de Menil. This early opportunity exposed Deal Booth to the value of cultural patronage.  While working towards her master’s degree at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, Deal Booth was also an assistant to artist, James Turrell. She assisted him with his first realized Skyspace at PS1 in Queens and later with his retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 2007 Deal Booth began a conversation with the Art Committee, and President Leebron, about approaching James Turrell, and commissioning him to conceive a Skyspace for Rice University. After initial discussions the project quickly became a priority for Rice’s new Public Art program, as it would further the program’s mission to challenge and inspire the community in a vitally important way.

For the generous vision and patronage that Deal Booth put forward to make this project a reality, the Rice Board of Trustees made a proclamation on June 14, 2012, that “Twilight Epiphany” a James Turrell Skyspace, would also come to be known as the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion.

From inception to final completion, the Skyspace has been five years in the making and has involved collaboration between countless Rice stakeholders and the larger Houston community. Each individual element of the space from the sequencing of the light displays, to the Skyspace’s exclusive function—the acoustical engineering, was designed uniquely for the Rice campus context; thus setting this Skyspace apart from the 72 spaces that have preceded it. As a result the site-specific installation “Twilight Epiphany,” is simultaneously a functional performance space and an experiential work of art.