Look up at the ceiling lights. Do you see the constellation Orion? It meant so much to Charles E. Burchfield that he painted it many times. During a sleepless night in 1933, for example, he gazed at the night sky “blanketed with soft strangely luminous clouds, in which now and then appeared ragged holes thru which glowed the deep indigo sky—black star-studded caves that moved majestically toward the south.” Through parting clouds, two brilliant stars appeared; then “suddenly three stars in a row, and I realized I was looking at Orion. A feeling of peace and comfort came over me at the sight of this beautiful group, like some being saying ‘All is well’–”
When architect Charles Gwathmey asked for ideas for non-linear lighting, Burchfield Scholar Nancy Weekly suggested Orion. Enthusiastic patrons Sherlock A. Herrick Jr., known as “Skip” and his wife, Joy, provided funds for the design. Stephen Sudak, part of the Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, LLC team and an amateur astronomer, designed the lights so Orion would have the correct directional orientation. Orion is also visible from the East Gallery on the first floor.