MSJC Art Gallery to Host Discussion Focused on Sculptor Noah Purifoy


The Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) Art Gallery will host a public online discussion about “The Art and Life of Noah Purifoy” from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10.

Franklin Sirmans, the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), will lead the one-hour Zoom discussion supported by the MSJC Foundation.

Noah Purifoy (1917-2004) lived and worked most of his life in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree. A founding director of the Watts Towers Art Center, his earliest body of sculpture, constructed out of charred debris from the 1965 Watts Rebellion, was the basis for “66 Signs of Neon,” a landmark group exhibition about the riots that traveled to nine venues from 1966 to 1969. In line with the postwar period’s general fascination with the street and its objects, Purifoy’s 66 Signs of Neon constituted a Duchampian approach to the fire-molded alleys of Watts, a strategy that profoundly impacted artists such as David Hammons, John Outterbridge and Senga Nengudi.

In the late 1980s, after 11 years of public policy work for the California Arts Council – where Purifoy initiated programs such as Artists in Social Institutions, bringing art into the state prison system – Purifoy moved his practice to the Mojave desert. He lived there for the last 15 years of his life, creating 10 acres of large-scale sculpture constructed entirely from junked materials.

Franklin Sirmans has been the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) since fall 2015. Since coming to PAMM, he has overseen the acquisition of more than a thousand works of art by donation or purchase. At PAMM, Sirmans has pursued his vision of PAMM as “the people’s museum,” representing a Miami lens, by strengthening existing affiliate groups such as the PAMM Fund for African American Art and creating the International Women’s Committee and the Latin American and Latinx Art Fund.

Prior to his appointment, he was the department head and curator of contemporary art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from 2010 until 2015. At LACMA, Sirmans organized Toba Khedoori; Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada; “Variations: Conversations in and around Abstract Painting;” “Fútbol: The Beautiful Game;” and “Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation.” From 2006 to 2010, he was curator of modern and contemporary art at The Menil Collection in Houston. From 2005 to 2006, Sirmans was a curatorial advisory committee member at MoMA/PS1. He was the artistic director of Prospect.3 New Orleans from 2012 until 2014. He was awarded the 2007 David C. Driskell Prize, administered by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

For more information, please visit or contact Art Professor John Knuth at

Mt. San Jacinto College serves about 27,000 students in a district covering 1,700 square miles from the San Gorgonio Pass to Temecula, with campuses in San Jacinto, Menifee, Banning and Temecula.

In May 2020, Mt. San Jacinto College awarded a record-breaking 3,554 degrees and certificates to 1,958 graduates.


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