“What would happen if Sun Ra, George Washington Carver and Robert Smithson started a community together in the desert?” (Besides the wonderful peanut butter sandwiches?) Artist Rashid Johnson considered the question when conceiving his latest installation “New Growth.” Commissioned by Ballroom Marfa (the former dance studio which is now a contemporary art center in Marfa, TX), Johnson has created among other pieces a large outdoor sculpture titled “The Shea Butter Irrigation System.” Heated by the sun, large cubes of shea butter (Johnson’s signature material, associated with Afrocentrism) melt and drip onto the dry Texan ground.
The high desert town of Marfa (population 1,981) was once home to minimalist master Donald Judd. During his years there (1971-1994), Judd transformed hangers and forts into art spaces. The town has served as a backdrop for dry and drastic films like Giant and There Will Be Blood. A former railroad water stop, the city tracks are still used but the Amtrak that passes through never stops.