This House is Art on Wheels

Dominique Moody’s One-of-a-Kind NOMAD Showcasing in Joshua Tree

Written By: Alex Terwilliger NOMAD
Photographed By: Eva Soltes

Dominique Moody is undoubtedly an artist, but if you ask what her medium is, the answer is not as clear cut. She identifies as an assemblage artist; assemblage art being defined as three­ dimensional visual art whose compositions are formed from everyday objects. Perhaps the word that best describes Dominique Moody is ‘storyteller, ’ for her artwork takes many shapes and forms, but at its core, it is created to tell a story, while also being functional. The stories are about history, culture, community, and environment. What’s most unique about Dominique and her art is that she has always been mobile in some sense of the word, never staying in one place for very long. Hence the name of her currently most well­ known piece, an assemblage artwork that functions as a mobile dwelling, known as the NOMAD.

Dominique was born in Germany to a family that was constantly on the move. Being an African American girl born in Germany set the tone for the pattern her life would follow, often finding herself in different settings that were unexpected. Children at school found her transient lifestyle unusual, but Dominique says she always viewed it as part of the richness of her family, valuing the opportunity to travel and live in different places. And so she began to call herself a nomad.

At the Harrison House’s Art and Ecology site, located in Joshua Tree, Dominique is in the midst of a three­ month ­long residency where she has been invited to expand the center by bridging the topics that the center focuses on: music, arts, and ecology. “Art is more than just performance or visual art as we traditionally think of it, ” Dominique says. “Art is problem ­solving.” Her site­ specific work focuses on the space’s needs and functions, and helps tell the history of the place. The art she has been building at the center is intended to have a vital function, and is often multifunctional, such as a horse corral which she has transformed into a sculptural fence and will surround a sunken garden.

These sculptural works, as well as the NOMAD mobile dwelling, are all created from materials that were at some point cast away. Dominique’s artistic vision centers around repurposing these materials, and using her creativity to transform daily objects into art that serves a function. Since she started her residency at the Harrison House, their yard of salvaged materials has been reduced by at least 50 percent. Glass bottles, which are tradition in assemblage art, had been collected in a range of colors, which Dominique saw as a palette for her work. “Because of the way they capture light, and their sculptural shape; it’s a simple object that everyone is familiar with, but when seen in collection they become something else. They become beautiful things that reference things in our life that are very familiar. We are using the materials not as garbage but as things to celebrate and enhance the space.”

As Dominique lives in the NOMAD, traveling from place to place, her ‘studio’ has become virtually limitless. Most of her materials for her art are found outdoors, on the street or in nature. “The ultimate for any artist is to be in a setting where you are not restricted, ” she says.

On Monday August 1 there will be an open house at the Arts and Ecology site of Harrison House from 5 p.m. to ­8 p.m., during which the public can view Dominique’s site specific work as well as the NOMAD mobile dwelling. There will also be a mural on display, created by Dominique’s brother, Dana. At the conclusion of Dominique’s residency, another open house will take place on all grounds, inside and out, on Saturday September 3 from 5 p.m.­ to 10 p.m., in celebration of the end of her residency. There is no cost for admission.

Harrison House will be hosting volunteer days on Saturday August 10 through Wednesday August 14 during which they will construct an earthbag retaining wall that will be part of sunken garden that Dominique’s sculptural fence surrounds.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Director Eva Soltes at 760.366.4712 or email

Harrison House Music, Arts & Ecology Welcomes The NOMAD

About the author


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