Noah Purifoy

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Noah Purifoy (1917–2004) was an African-American artist and co-founder of the Watts Towers Art Center.[1] He is best known for his assemblage sculpture, including a body of work made from charred debris and wreckage collected after the Watts Riots of August 1965.[2] Purifoy (along with artist Judson Powell) organized the exhibition 66 Signs of Neon, composed of roughly 50 works of art made from salvaged materials, to "interpret the August event." The exhibition premiered at Markham Junior High School (April 3–9, 1966) and traveled to nine state universities in California, eventually traveling to other venues throughout the United States.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Purifoy was born in Snow Hill, Alabama. In 1953, he moved to Los Angeles to attend Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts). Purifoy was the first African-American to enroll there as a full-time student and earned his BFA in 1956, just before his fortieth birthday.[4]


  1. ^ Timberg, Scott (March 9, 2004). "Noah Purify, 86; Assemblage Artist (obituary)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Finkel, Jori (March 13, 2010). "Unearthing Lost Treasures in California". New York Times. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Shaw, Cameron (November 22, 2010). "Make Art Not War: Watts and the Junk Art Conversation". East of Borneo. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Pacific Standard Time at the Getty Center". Artist Bios: Noah Purifoy. The Getty Research Institute. Retrieved 14 July 2013.