Noah Purifoy

On the same trip to Southern California this last spring, we discovered another gem just a little off the beaten path, namely the haunting and powerful open air museum dedicated to the work of activist, educator and sculptor Noah Purifoy. Purifoy was born in Alabama and educated at the State Teacher's College there, before moving to California. He was a founding member of the Watts Towers Arts Center and throughout his career used his art as a catalyst for social engagement and change. In the late 1980's he moved permanently to Joshua Tree and began building large scale work on a 10-acre lot in the desert.

the site was underwhelming at first, looking like any number of misguided efforts at desert building that turn into junk at the first wind storm.

the site was underwhelming at first, looking like any number of misguided efforts at desert building that turn into junk at the first wind storm.

after a little while, though, the intensity of vision started to be clear to us, and was darker and more poignant.

after a little while, though, the intensity of vision started to be clear to us, and was darker and more poignant.

"handmade object in the vastness" was definitely a trope the sculptures tapped into, but we found the spaces within these objects wrenching because they were human in scale, whether we could enter them or not.

"handmade object in the vastness" was definitely a trope the sculptures tapped into, but we found the spaces within these objects wrenching because they were human in scale, whether we could enter them or not.

even before we knew anything about the artist, the themes of slavery and power, race and the myth of the west were overwhelming

even before we knew anything about the artist, the themes of slavery and power, race and the myth of the west were overwhelming

time is one of Purifoy's most active collaborators in this unfolding project, and as the desert softens and nibbles away at its edges, we started to feel as we were walking through an instruction manual for the apocalypse.

time is one of Purifoy's most active collaborators in this unfolding project, and as the desert softens and nibbles away at its edges, we started to feel as we were walking through an instruction manual for the apocalypse.

http://www.noahpurifoy.com

http://www.noahpurifoy.com