DC Commissioned Artist

John Outterbridge

Nues/ 50th St. Park


John Outterbridge was an American artist and community activist who lived and worked in Los Angeles. His work explores the issues surrounding personal identity such as family, community and the environment through the use of discarded materials. He was the first director of the Watts Towers Art Center, and served in that role for seventeen years.

DC Featured Art


Rendering of “Nues” at 50th St. Park by Perkins & Will

“Sometimes you ask yourself, ‘What is art? And what do I care what it is called and what it becomes?’ The only thing I know about it is that sometimes it has a tendency to shake me up and to shake what is around me up.”

Some of his earliest and widely known works were made during the Watts Riots. Outterbridge collected the debris that covered the streets from this historic event to create sculptures. The final work was deeply steeped in politics and resulted in Outterbridge continuing to confront these themes in his work.
The exploration of his heritage, his personal struggles and those of the people in his community started to intersect naturally with Outterbridge’s interest in community activism. Without the traditional canvas and frame, he wove together the personal and the public in three-dimensional creations, freeing himself both physically and psychologically. His hauntingly beautiful assemblages offer reflections on the past and meditations on the future.

Other Works