documentary photography, fine art photography, landscape photography, Mojave Desert, photojournalism
"The Mojave" is an ongoing documentary photography series exploring the Mojave Desert -- a resilient region of the United States that survives on its own terms, seemingly untouched by time or contemporary society.
The Sacred Tree
The Joshua Tree is an iconic and rare tree known to grow in only two regions on earth — the Mojave Desert, and near Jerusalem. The trees rely on another rare species for pollination — the yucca moth. During the government shutdown in the United States in early 2019, the trees in Joshua Tree National Park were subject to destruction at the hands of disrespectful tourists. Visitors had taken advantage of the absence of park rangers and chopped some of the beautiful trees down to clear paths for their vehicles where no roads existed.
Throughout the late 1930s to 1950s, federal land grants made land in a small corner of the Mojave Desert available to almost anyone who wanted to build a homestead there. The remnants of those “jackrabbit homesteads” still pepper the roadside in Wonder Valley and Twentynine Palms. Recently, renovations have begun on some of the structures with the purpose of transforming them into weekend art studios or intimate Airbnb rentals for those looking to escape the noise of nearby cities.
Unusual art installations are hidden throughout the Mojave — particularly in areas surrounding Joshua Tree and Wonder Valley, where artists have started to make use of the vast, empty land for their works of art. One of the more well-known installations in the region is Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture, an outdoor museum featuring the work of late artist Noah Purifoy that is maintained and preserved by the Noah Purifoy Foundation.
A view of one of the installations at Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture.
A row of seemingly abandoned toilets without walls makes up one of the installations at Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture. The work reminds the viewer of the very basic human desire for privacy, while at the same time making the expansiveness of the desert surrounding it very obvious, as long stretches of time can pass in the desert without encountering another person even in public spaces.
Mojave Desert landscape
An expansive view of the landscape from a high place overlooking the Mojave Desert.
Jackrabbit Homestead and Beetle
Some of the homesteads dotting the landscape of the Morongo Valley region of the Mojave fall onto the property of those who have left society behind for a quieter lifestyle in the desert, away from the busy and often inequitable structure of contemporary urban society.
Yucca and Fence
A Joshua Tree peeks over an aluminum fence on a clear, bright afternoon.
Beautiful, twisting rock formations make up the landscape in many regions of Joshua Tree.
Frozen in Time
Throughout the desert, time appears to stand still as the landscapes in many places take on an almost prehistoric, extraterrestrial-like appearance.
The Middle of Nowhere
A structure sits without a working door, a quiet reminder of the vast loneliness of its surroundings.
The Effects of Time
Interior of a room, once occupied but now seemingly abandoned.
Wonder Valley Mailboxes
A row of mailboxes that belong to homes in the area are a reminder of the unusual distance between people and homes in the Mojave Desert.
A Rough Terrain
In some parts of the desert, immense rocks compose a significant part of the path.
A Lonely Landscape
The landscape in Joshua Tree, while refreshingly and uniquely beautiful, can also be a lonely experience after many hours wandering through its immense quietness.
Peaks and Valleys
A view of the rocky peaks in Joshua Tree National Forest.
In other parts of the desert, cacti grow. Some of the cacti is native, while others have been brought in from outside the region to be used as decorative landscaping.
A Quiet Place
A view of the dry and rocky desert landscape of the Mojave.
"The Mojave" is an ongoing photo-documentary series exploring the Mojave Desert -- a resilient region of the United States that survives on its own terms, seemingly untouched by time or contemporary society.