Teresita Fernández receives the Aspen Art Award at the Aspen Art Museum’s annual Art Crush benefit.

ASPEN - It’s been a great year for Mother Nature in the art world. Artists have always looked out the window for inspiration, of course, from detailed Old Master landscapes to the hazy horizon-like bands in Color Field paintings and a million artworks in between.

But there’s something more science-y happening of late. Most prominently, of course, the great James Turrell took over the Guggenheim’s spiral rotunda and, harnessing light both natural and artificial, turned it into a mesmerizing meeting with the cosmos.

At James Cohan Gallery back in May, the talented Spencer Finch had his own take on recording nature in a series of pieces, as when he took soundings of Walden Pond just as his hero Henry David Thoreau did back in the 19th century; Finch marked all the depths on a 120-foot-long rope and then added watercolor renderings of the exact hue of the pond in each spot.

Sotheby’s Oliver Barker at the annual Art Crush benefit.

And now, in one of the world’s best places to enjoy the outdoors, Teresita Fernández was just given the 2013 Aspen Award for Art, as part of the Aspen Art Museum’s annual Art Crush benefit, held two weeks ago and featuring lots of dinners, cocktail events and a big live auction.

We already know Fernández is a serious artist – she won a MacArthur “genius” award in 2005, after all. But it’s her interest in the world around us that fits her snugly into this pattern of nature-meets-science: Like Turrell, she’s interested in how we perceive nature, and how that perception alters our idea of it.

In 2007, her work Seattle Cloud Cover was installed in one of my favorite urban spaces, Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park, designed by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi. Seattle Cloud Cover addresses the very idea of the cloudy, rainy city itself: You look at the cityscape through tiny holes, and past several layers of colored glass with a cloud pattern printed on them, to see a whole new brightly colored and ever shifting version of Seattle.

Teresita Fernández's Blind Land (Green Mirror) is auctioned off at the Aspen Art Museum’s Art Crush benefit.

At the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, her Stacked Waters, 2009, is a permanent lobby installation. Ingeniously using a watery-looking cast acrylic, she made the entire lobby seem as if it were a Roman bath. As visitors ascend, the color lightens from blue to white, as if coming to the surface. Fernández has said that she’s also referencing Donald Judd’s stacked boxes here, which adds another layer of meaning to the piece.

The Aspen award seems like a good call, given her work and the timeliness of her interests. For those not making it to Aspen, her gallery, Lehmann Maupin, is giving her an exhibition at its new Hong Kong branch, beginning September 12.