Tom Birkner came to Joshua Tree to begin a series of paintings of a post-civilized world. While here, he has been painting in the Palm Springs turbine fields, Slab City, Salvation Mountain and Desert Center. Within these dramatic backdrops, Birkner places characters caught in moments of action that are simultaneously ordinary yet symbolic. As these characters wander through our region, they're purpose is to show a hard existence of struggle and endurance.

I will be forever jealous of the knowledge and value that our ancestors had for their environment's flora. As pharmacology continues to advance, I believe it is important to have a sophisticated understanding of the plants from where it derived and knowledge of their traditional uses. My current work, Vivarium, consists of still lifes of edible, medicinal, and psychoactive plants growing in Phoenix, Arizona. The title, Vivarium, meaning place of life, is an enclosed space with plants or animals for observation or research purposes. For me, this act of concealing fragments of nature reflects our unique relationship with the natural world, and sets the theme of curiosity, containment, and control throughout my work.

I am a Pakistani-American artist, who was born and raised in Long Island, New York. When I was four years old, I told my mother about a vivid dream and conviction I had of the place my brothers would go to everyday, school. School was not a brick building that held students, aligned desks, and textbooks. School was a literal jungle with animals and overgrown foliage. I dreamt of this place for so long. I remember my shock when I arrived to school for the first time, feeling as though something significant was missing. A promise broken. This feeling of something missing has remained all too familiar. When I visited my parent’s childhood home for the first time, I realized stories of kings and queens were just that, folklore. I create landscape paintings of places that do not exist. These works reflect a longing for a home, as intangible as it may be. I work with gouache on paper for its ephemeral quality and reference to the miniature painting process that is native to Pakistan.

Lisa Marie Rollins is a poet, playwright and essayist. She will be sharing some new stories and poems written while in the desert and work from her new play in progress TOKEN. TOKEN is a ghost story that examines transracial adoption and the myth of colorblind love as it follows the path of two women searching for the truth of their identities and a place to call home.