A Finding Aid to the Noah Purifoy Papers, 1935-1998, bulk 1971-1998, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.purinoah
Creators:
Purifoy, Noah, 1917-
Dates:
1935-1998
bulk 1971-1998
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
1.2 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of African American assemblage artist Noah Purifoy measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1935 to 1998 with the bulk of the material dating from 1971 to 1998. The collection contains biographical material; correspondence; writings on Purifoy and art; material related to the California Arts Council; material related to other professional activities, including commissions and exhibitions; printed material; and scrapbooks.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of African American assemblage artist and arts administrator Noah Purifoy measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1935 to 1998 with the bulk of the material dating from 1971 to 1998. The collection contains biographical material, including an award, diplomas, and resumes; correspondence with arts institutions and artists; writings on Purifoy and art; material related to the California Arts Council, including drafts for the Artists-in-Education Summer Workshop and Conference; material related to other professional activities, including a commission from the Getty Center and exhibitions; and printed material, including clippings, exhibition catalogs, and magazines. Also included are two scrapbooks, which contain photographic material, correspondence, printed material, as well as selected writings and other materials documenting Purifoy's career as an artist and arts administrator.

Arrangement
Arrangement
This collection is arranged as seven series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1939-1953, 1980-circa 1987 (Box 1; 3 folders)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1971-1979, 1992-1998 (Box 1; 3 folders)
  • Series 3: Writings, 1974, circa 1990s, undated (Box 1; 4 folders)
  • Series 4: California Arts Council, 1976-1980 (Box 1, OV 2; 0.1 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Other Professional Activities, circa 1967-1977, 1994-1998 (Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)
  • Series 6: Printed Material, 1939, 1966-1998 (Box 1, OV 2; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1935-1938, 1957-1997 (Box 1, OV 3; 0.5 linear feet)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Noah Purifoy (1917-2004) was an African American sculptor, assemblage artist, and arts administrator in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, California.
Born in Snow Hill, Alabama, Purifoy attended Alabama State Teachers College (now Alabama State University) and Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). In 1953, Purifoy enrolled at the Chouinard Arts Institute (now CalArts) as the first full-time African American student. He earned his bachelor's of fine arts degree in 1956, just before his 40th birthday.
Purifoy co-founded the Watts Towers Art Center in Los Angeles, California and he, along with artist Judson Powell, organized the exhibition 66 Signs of Neon as a way to interpret the 1965 Watts Riots.
In 1989, Purifoy moved to the Mojave Desert, just outside of Joshua Tree, California. He spent the remainder of his life creating the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Sculpture Museum, which is composed of large-scale assemblages in the desert constructed entirely from found objects. The museum is open to the public and maintained by the Noah Purifoy Foundation.

Administration
Author
Rayna Andrews
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Noah Purifoy donated the papers to the Archives of American Art in 1998.
Processing Information
The collection was minimally processed and a finding aid prepared by Rayna Andrews in 2021 with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Preferred Citation
Noah Purifoy papers, 1935-1998. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

More Information

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Scrapbooks Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American artists Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arts administrators -- California -- Los Angeles Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Assemblage artists -- California -- Los Angeles Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Assemblage artists -- California -- Joshua Tree Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- California -- Los Angeles Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- California -- Joshua Tree Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American sculptors Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
California Arts Council Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Watts Towers Art Center Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/