Those who wander are not lost…meaning and purpose

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it”

Gautama Buddha

I spent time with an artist I admire very much: Dominique Moody is a well-known assemblage artist who is creating her life so that her vision, purpose, art and values all align. Recently we talked about her devotion to her vision of The Nomad, in which most of her current artistic efforts are invested.

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Dominique said she never guessed how great the cost of being faithful to her vision, or the intense struggles of every day life as well as the creative ones that she would face. For example six days a week she takes a two-hour bus journey to and from her distant studio space where she is creating The Nomad, her current and enduring art work. Imagine the process of transporting the bulky materials used in large assemblages to and from her work space on the bus, as she cannot drive.

In order to provide a space in which to work, she has often had to clean and organize piles of rubbish, which is a huge investment of both time and physical effort.IMG_1618







Even after 35 years of practice Dominique still faces the usual struggles that most other working artists face.

Sadly, she says, many people are stopped by these challenges because they believe that things cannot be done if there is no money. But not Dominique Moody! She realized that she had to find ways to invest in her own vision without capital –  or at least she needed to redefine “capital”.

Dominique described how “capital” means something different to her from the usual current value of financial assets being everything and the ultimate problem solver.

She described the importance of social capital, which involves others in sharing and she inspires them to assist, join in and bring their best gifts to a partnership with hers. Dominique knew that this was the only way that The Nomad – the culmination of her lifelong passion – could be created.

What is this “Nomad”?

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The Nomad is a “Tiny House on Wheels” “(as in the Tiny House Movement), that has been crafted in the medium of her art – assemblage.   The Nomad functions as her mobile artist-in-residence.

The Nomad and Dominique will travel together to seek out rubbish piles and do site-specific work with materials at hand. She will create assemblage sculptures and leave them where she found their components. These structures can and will take many forms that are based on the environment. Dominique will live in her art (The Nomad) and continue to create beauty in art and her life.

One of Dominique’s values is to live sustainably; she deplores how we trash the beautiful land we are blessed to inhabit and we use up its gifts with impunity and unconsciousness. Although she feels it is not necessary for her to own the land she very much wants to protect it. In response she diverts useful and soon-to-be beautiful objects from the landfills. She lives the principles of stewardship – reuse, repurpose, recycle. Although she loves the land and very much wants to protect it, she feels it is not necessary for her to own land.

The first repurposed items I noticed on The Nomad were the magnificent portholes, which I failed to guess are carefully polished and tended washing machine doors . She was inspired to bring them into the Nomad when sitting in a public laundromat watching the machine rotate her clothes.


She confided that the real trick was to hunt down the 4 doors that she needed.

Everything used in The Nomad has a story: The piece of wood Dominique is holding in this photo comes from a 150 year-old bridge from Bakersfield, CA. It is the reclaimed remains from a large piece of public art that used Clearheart wood. Dominique explained that the Clearheart was dried in the heat of a century and a half of summers and this piece will take its own important place in the structure of The Nomad.


Looking at the Nomad in its current workshop at Anawalt Lumber Company, Montrose,CA. I am caught up by the power of this artist’s grand vision that continues to drive her to meet unexpected challenges time and time again. She exercises her creativity and problem solving as adeptly as her power tools. She holds the large vision as well as the multitudes of details that comprise it.

IMG_1571Each piece of corrugated metal is cut and colored with many glazes before being pieced together in the pattern on the walls.

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As she describes her journey to bring The Nomad into being her face is suffused with a beauty and a joy that invites you not only to believe in her success but also to want to participate in it.

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She has had to move many times throughout her life; now she has found a way to embody that way of life in a culture that rejects it. Her 1950 Ford truck has the license plate “Nomad 45 “that celebrates the fact that it is her 45th address in her 58 years

Those who wander are not lost.

All those who know and are entranced by Dominique’s vision and sense of purpose,  those who want to follow in her footsteps will appreciate the irony that she is legally blind. Although her limited sight does not allow her to see the path, she has always seen the way. She inspires  us to look at what we discard with opened eyes.

She helps us to believe that every life can contain beauty, passion, art. Dominique (and I ) believe that if people can follow her example and commit to a vision that includes the Earth, community, Art, as well as family, friends, we will be able to understand its importance. We all can play a part at any age in making life purposeful in this country and on this beautiful and fragile planet.

The last words come from Dominique, when she spontaneously and joyfully arranged these blocks (with my help to read the words) in a little health food café in Altadena … IMG_1593

 Photos by Maureen Kellen-Taylor




















One thought on “Those who wander are not lost…meaning and purpose

  1. Thank you for your BLOG, Maureen. You have a gift for drawing readers into the soul of those whom you write about. I love your sense of timing too, so that I was drawn in to understand who Dominique is as an artist and how richly, joyfully, fresh, and complex her vision, art and lifestyle really is. BRAVO!!


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