Artist Steed Taylor has long been tying communities together with public art in the form of his Road Tattoos. Streets in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Connecticut, among other cities, have been graced with large-scale inkings of public space that interlace memorial and ritual in a culturally specific knot design.
Recently, he was asked to create a signature piece for the new residency program, BoxoHOUSE, and the town where it’s located—Joshua Tree, a Mojave Desert town in southeastern California. BoxoHOUSE is the “research outpost” of BoxoPROJECTS, a New York City-based gallery that supports contemporary artists, energizing them to tap into a frontier spirit nurtured by independence and interdependence and participate in an ongoing conversation involving freedom, choice, and responsibility. BoxoHOUSE, where Taylor’s sculpture is on permanent display, creates a space for the “investigation and development of ideas related to place, community, and the environment.”
Taylor’s road tattoos are site-specific by incorporating commemorative voices in the form of names and other messages of local or community significance, and, similarly, the large-scale Celtic knot sculpture mixed concrete with objects donated by the local community to represent its members’ hopes and aspirations in the face of encroaching big-box store and casino development during a troubled housing market. Taylor also created a series of demon bowls as containers for the anxieties of both BoxoPROJECTS director Bernard Leibov and the community, and then symbolically buried the bowls at each of the property’s four corners over the course of a dedication ceremony led by Taylor with the help of guests.
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