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Desert X 2023 has closed. This installation is no longer on view.

Gerald Clarke


b. Hemet, California, USA, 1967
Based on the Cahuilla Indian Reservation

33.868051, -116.553720
James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center
Palm Springs, California, USA
Desert X 2023

Play Immersion here
Gerald Clarke is an artist, university professor, cowboy and Cahuilla tribal leader. He is known for deriving inspiration from his heritage and expressing traditional ideas in contemporary forms — mixed-media sculptures, paintings, works on paper, videos, performances and installations — that are at once poetic and politically urgent. Clarke’s artistic output resonates with histories of assemblage, pop, and conceptual art produced by both Native and non-Native artists.
As an educator, Clarke understands the role that games can play in leading people to obtaining knowledge that they might have been hesitant to seek on their own. Employing the language of traditional Cahuilla basket weaving and American board games, the artist creates a monumental sculpture of a gameboard in the desert that immerses visitors in the natural and cultural history of Native Americans in the Coachella Valley. Catalyzing active learning, the maze-like structure invites visitors to walk on it and move according to instructions driving a game of cards, rewarding the player with new ways of viewing and understanding the landscape.
This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Generous support is provided by Roswitha Smale.
Special thanks to the Desert Highland Gateway Estates Community Action Association.

Listen in: Lauren Bon & Gerald Clarke discuss their artistic practices as it connects to larger goals for social and environmental change.