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5 Creative Geniuses Behind Burning Man

The creative genius at Burning Man is truly created from the raw energy and emotion of the festival attendees, from the group consciousness that rises in waves from the desert playa like steam. The men and women who can channel that intense power and beauty and turn it into epic works of art are the cultural shamans of Burning Man. Here are a few of these magic makers, as featured in Burning Man: Art on Fire.

These are five of the many, uncountable creative geniuses behind Burning Man.

1) Marco Cochrane, creator of Bliss Dance (2010) and Truth is Beauty (2013)

Each of these massive sculptures depicts a female nude in a state of joy. The first, Bliss Dance, appeared on the playa in 2010, followed by Truth Is Beauty in 2013. Artist Marco Cochrane imagined the sculptures as a series of three, designed to call attention to the treatment of women and to depict them in a state of beauty, safety, and self-acceptance. Inspired by the traumatic assault of a childhood friend, he dedicates this series to the empowerment of the female, which he believes would return the world to a more peaceful balance.

Cochrane credits the open-minded culture of Burning Man for inspiring the sculptures. “I’m trying to demystify nudity. I see how free women are on the playa, how they can possess a playful energy here that they cannot do in real life.” He channels the energy from the festival and uses his creativity to turn it into an epic, grand, timeless work of art.

2) Dana Albany, The Bone Tree 1999

Dana Albany is a long-time contributor to Burning Man, and the festival has grown because of her creative genius. In 1999, she was asked by Burning Man founder Larry Harvey to create the art centerpiece for the festival. The theme that year was “The Wheel of Time.” Dana thought about the desert, about DNA, about the march of time, and she created the piece of art, “The Bone Tree.”

In an interview on The Leonardo Gallery (which also has an amazing picture of The Bone Tree ablaze), Albany says, “The Bone Tree served several purposes. It was a tribute to the passage of time in which living animals transform from flesh to bone, a final reminder of their presence on earth. It was also an interactive sculpture in that its mobility was derived from participants who pushed it in a sweeping circle around the the Wheel of Time installations. This clockwise orbiting of the Bone Tree around the Wheel of Time acted as a magnet in drawing passersby to follow it and in turn be introduced to the various installations that were featured in sequence that evening. The third aspect of the Bone Tree was performance as it included a miniature stage where Father Time appeared with his acolytes who danced in front of him.” You can also read about the fitting end to The Bone Tree on The Leonardo Gallery site.

Albany has created and collaborated on more art installations featuring recycled and organic materials, including bones for the festival. Browse this gallery on BurningMan.com to discover more from Dana Albany.

bonetree.png

3) Duane Flatmo, El Pulpo Mecanico, 2012

Mutant Vehicles are a big part of Burning Man. These extraordinary machines require creative talent that extends beyond most artists’ wheel houses. They need artistic vision, plus technical execution, plus mechanical mastery. Duane Flatmo is the creative genius behind these Mutant Vehicles, and the creator of “El Pulpo Mecanico,” pictured below.

Duane Flatmo’s inspiration often comes from found materials. “I kept going to thrift stores and finding so much aluminum,” he says. “I started seeing it as textures: pizza pans, colanders, garbage cans … and decided it would be fun to make a vehicle out of junk parts. I was using intuition to figure out how to make something work, starting with what I knew about kinetic sculpture after 30 years building pedal racers. I had saved newspaper clippings of Burning Man for 20 years, but I’d never attended. When I went out there I was blown away.”

Duane Flatmo, El Pulpo Mecanico, 2012.

4) Kate Raudenbush, The Guardian of Eden, 2007

Kate Raudenbush does not take her creative genius for granted, or underestimate its meaning in our culture. She is highly conscious about the social impact of her art. She says in her Black Rock City TEDx, “art is the consciousness of our culture expressed in physical form.” Her work, “The Guardian of Eden” appeared at Burning Man in 2007, and has an energy of new beginnings, of new life, but also of ancient practices and Eastern tradition and myth. Raudenbush is the perfect artist to channel this message and turn it into huge sculptures for the Burning Man festival.

In Burning Man: Art on Fire, Raudenbush admits, “Burning Man challenges me to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, over and over again,” says Kate Raudenbush, who designs and fabricates enormous steel climbing structures with an otherworldly ethereality.

Kate Raudenbush, Brain Drop, 2007.

Kate Raudenbush, Futures Past, 2010.

5) Jon Sarriugarte and Krysten Mayte, The Golden Mean (2011) and The Serpent Twins (2011)

Husband and wife team Jon Sarriugarte and Kyrsten Mayte would often be seen driving this remarkable yin–yang pair of illuminated creatures with ten articulated joints that enabled their sinuous pas de deux on the expanse of the open playa. Their daughter, Zolie Mae, was often seen copiloting in her custom winged aviator cap as the light and dark creatures headed back to their home base, where they parked under a forged sign that read, “The Empire of Dirt.”

This family is fueled by creativity that knows no bounds, and their work is a celebration of ingenuity and invention.

5 works of art from Burning Man that will make you cry

1. The Embrace (2014)

Visitors to Black Rock City this year are lucky enough to bear witness a 72-foot high hug. Two intertwined, larger-than-life human figures are the same scale as the Statute of Liberty and tower above the playa to form one of the central works of art at this year’s Burning Man festival.

“The Embrace,” created by The Pier Group is not just an ode to love and real human connection: it’s also a functional building space, with spacious interiors where Burners can seek shelter and spend time together.

Matthew Schultz, a member of The Pier Group, said, “We hope that ‘The Embrace’ inspires people to be in awe of what we can build together. It’s about cherishing each moment, it’s about being here in the now, being present with the people you care about, with the people you love.”

“The Embrace” is so full of hope, so full of love and acceptance and a spirit of deep connection that it will surely bring tears to even a stoic reveler’s eyes.


2. Bliss Dance (2010) and Truth is Beauty (2013)

Each of these massive sculptures depicts a female nude in a state of joy. The first, Bliss Dance, appeared on the playa in 2010, followed by Truth Is Beauty in 2013. Artist Marco Cochrane imagined the sculptures as a series of three, designed to call attention to the treatment of women and to depict them in a state of beauty, safety, and self-acceptance. Inspired by the traumatic assault of a childhood friend, he dedicates this series to the empowerment of the female, which he believes would return the world to a more peaceful balance.

Cochrane credits the open-minded culture of Burning Man for inspiring the sculptures. “I’m trying to demystify nudity. I see how free women are on the playa, how they can possess a playful energy here that they cannot do in real life.”

The simple beauty and power of these joyful women inspires such revery that they are likely to inspire tears.

3. The Temples (Multiple Years)

The most visible symbol of inspiration and praise in Black Rock City is the Temple, which is always situated at the very top of the city, in the open playa due north of the Man. The Temple is a deeply spiritual place, one that offers a sacred space for contemplation, free from religious or denominational tenets. Its design changes every year, but its meaning remains the same: a place for the community to celebrate the gifts of life, reflect on the past, remember loved ones, and relinquish sadness to the flames that ritually engulf the Temple and close the event on Sunday night.

The Temples are a monument to spirituality and if the humility and inspiration you feel when you walk in to the sacred space doesn’t fill your eyes with tears of awe, sacrificing the temple to the fire on Sunday night will certainly awaken cathartic emotions.

Inside the Temple of Whollyness in 2013.

The Temple of Wholiness, 2013

Temple of Juno, 2012

Temple of Hope, 2006 

4. Crude Awakening (2007)

The power of Burning Man is that it doesn’t let attendees off the hook. It holds attendees responsible for maintaning the edicts of the festival, including sharing and radical inclusion. Through art, the festival also can call attention to heart-breaking environmental problems and societal ailments while recognizing that attendees are both part of the problem AND the hope for a solution.

“Crude Awakening,” in 2007, did just that. From Burning Man: Art on Fire, A highly political statement formed the philosophical centerpiece of 2007’s “Green Man” theme. A dramatic commentary on the international dependence on fossil fuels, the installation featured a 90-foot oil derrick, surrounded by nine giant seven-ton sculptures of salvaged metal ignited with flames and worshipping at the altar of oil. Each of the figures represented a different ethnicity in postures of supplication in a diverse array of religious traditions.”

This art will bring tears to your eyes when you realize the powerlessness we have in the face of big business, but it also should rally in you a call to power so vibrant and urgent that you can dig deep and make the changes you need to make to, quite literally, save the world.


5. The Man (Every Year)

Every year at the close of the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, the playa is lit on fire. In tribute to the festival’s name, the man is burned. Every year, people return to their lives a little wiser, a little freer, and with their creative energy pumped up and flowing.

Burning Man attracts a community that so many of us are so desperate for as we go through our daily lives, go through the motion of our careers and glide past our family members without the deep spiritual and creative connection we need to thrive.

“We will always burn the Man,” declares the mission statement of Burning Man. The creation of this tradition, and the foundation of a community that is completely dedicated to the values of this festival is, without a doubt, powerful enough to make you cry.

“As if you were on fire from within, the moon lives in the lining of your skin.” — Pablo Neruda

Credits for the photography and many quotes from this blog post to Burning Man: Art on Fire, written by Jennifer Raiser, introduction by Larry Harvey, with photographs from Scott London and Sidney Erthal.

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Burning Man: Art on Fire is here! Get your copy now! Get 30% off Burning Man with the code: BURNING30. http://bit.ly/1pDh77I

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Friends… Laura… Did you know you can make CAKE in your MUGS? This life-changing realization has made me one happy camper. It also made me feel that it was absolutely necessary to share a sneak peek recipe from the not-yet-published book 5-Minute Mug CakesOnce you make this recipe at home (in less than 5 minutes!) and it blows your mind, go preorder your copy today. And then send your proof of purchase into the author and she’ll sign your book for you. Amazing news? We think so.

Blueberry Muffin Streusel Mug Cakes
Excerpted from 5-Minute Mug Cakes by Jennifer Lee

I am a strong believer that streusel makes everything taste better. This muffin cake is studded with blueberries and then covered with a generous amount of streusel. The cake takes a little more effort if you want to add the topping, but streusel is always worth it, at least in my book!

Muffin

4 tbsp (30 g) all-purpose flour
1⁄8 tsp baking powder
1⁄16 tsp baking soda
2 tsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp (45 ml) fat-free milk
½ tbsp (7.5 ml) vegetable oil
8 fresh blueberries

Streusel Topping (serves 2)

½ tbsp (7 g) cold butter, chopped into tiny pieces
¾ tbsp (5.6 g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (12.5 g) plus 1 tsp (4 g) light brown sugar
1⁄16 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Muffin: Combine all muffin ingredients except blueberries in an oversized microwave-safe mug. Mix with a small whisk until batter is smooth. Stir in blueberries.

For the Streusel Topping: In a separate small bowl, mix streusel ingredients until butter pieces are completely coated in the flour, sugar, and cinnamon.

Sprinkle crumbles of streusel on top of muffin batter, spreading out evenly across surface of batter.

Cook in microwave for about 1 minute. If cake is not done, heat an additional 15 seconds. Let cake cool a few minutes. Cake is best consumed while still warm or within a few hours of it being cooked.

Skip a Step!
If you don’t care for streusel, you can just exclude it and save some time. Or you can sprinkle coarse sugar on top as an alternative.

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'Truth is Beauty' was commissioned by artist Marco Cochrane for Burning Man 2013. How beautiful is this lighted form?!