In December of last year, Kanye West made a visit to Flagstaff, Arizona, that he described on Twitter as “life changing.” And now, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Kanye West has made a generous $10 million donation to the art installation (by way of the Turrell Art Foundation) that changed his life, so that other lives can be changed and the Roden Crater Project can be “experienced and enjoyed for eternity.”
What is the Roden Crater Project? Started by artist James Turrell in the 1970s, the project makes use of the naturally occurring Roden Crater of an extinct volcano. The artist’s own website describes the project like this:
“Organized as a distinct set of changing experiences of light, Turrell’s intervention in the natural form of Roden Crater consists of a series of chambers, pathways, tunnels, and openings onto the sky from within and around the crater’s surface.”
Put more simply, Turrell has essentially turned the Roden Crater into a unique observatory, and now with Kanye’s financial assistance the project can continue indefinitely.
For Turrell’s part, he understandably says he’s “thrilled” by the donation, but if you have a sharp memory or you’re a follower of Turrell’s work you may recall that he hasn’t always been grateful for the attention he’s gotten from the hip hop community. In 2015, his work was cited as being one of the chief inspirations behind the video for Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” to which he issued the following statement:
“While I am truly flattered to learn that Drake f*cks with me, I nevertheless wish to make clear that neither I nor any of my woes was involved in any way in the making of the Hotline Bling video.”
It just goes to show how things can change between an artist and the artists they inspire when actual money changes hands, instead of just credit.