In this lyric essay the author journeys to the Mojave desert village of Joshua Tree, California, site of an ambitious and idiosyncratic work of assemblage by artist Noah Purifoy, whose career was forged in the crucible of civil rights and the Watts Riots of 1965. Although the work is highly abstract, references to segregation appear in various guises—although simple binaries are constantly disrupted by the sheer complexity of imagery conjured by the profusion of "assembled" objects. The setting for the work—the desert—is itself an integral component of the Purifoy's vision, offering mythic depth and the starkest of landscapes upon which to peer deep into the American psyche.

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