The Roden Crater is located near Flagstaff, Arizona, on the edge of the Painted Desert. The crater is an extinct volcano. It was bought in 1979 by the artist James Turrell, famous in the art world for his unique take on creating art, who began to turn the crater into a work of art. It is his most massive undertaking to date. The crater is two miles wide and approximately 400,000 years old.
The crater has sparked intense interest in part because it is restricted from the public. No one is allowed into the crater unless invited by the artist. Typically though, those invited have made large contributions to the project or have commissioned other works of art from Turrell. Many well known art dealers and other important figures in the art world have seen the crater.
The desire to see the crater has even led some fans to trespass, which may involve hiking through the desert to get the very remote location. Some have taken photos of the crater and posted them on the internet, although some of those visitors discourage people from taking the trip which is potentially dangerous as it is extremely isolated and far from any major road.
People who have seen the crater have described it as an incredible sight. James Turrell does not take a typical approach to art. After he bought the crater, he started excavating tons of earth in order to hollow out tunnels and chambers. He tried to make different viewing areas, so the light, astronomical features, and sky could be seen from inside the crater. Thus, he tried to turn a space itself into art. Visitors have also commented on the bronze staircase leading out of the crater. A musician who visited the crater talked about playing the drums in a sound chamber in the crater and said that it was an amazing experience. Those who have been there have not given everything away though, and people are left to wonder about much of it.
Originally, the Roden Crater was supposed to be finished in the late 1980’s. The date was pushed back a number of times though due to financial issues among other problems, which caused construction to halt at different times. As of last notice, the crater should be finished sometime in 2011, although there is no guarantee of that. Some speculate that once the Roden Crater is finished it is going to be one of the hottest things in the art world.
Astronomy Cast has an episode on volcanoes.