a journal of my creative efforts, past and present

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Location: Berkeley, California, United States

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Burning Man Piece #2: Where the Heart Lies

This second Burning Man piece is intended to go into the "old age" section of the Black Rock Lighthouse. I decided to focus on the idea of "home", or more specifically, my wishes to create a welcoming and nurturing home for myself and others sometime in the future. As many of my friends and acquaintances know, I had to move twice in the last two and a half years. The first move was the result of an owner move-in and the second time I was priced out. Both of these places were located in Oakland.

I think the first loss was the most difficult for me both financially and emotionally. I had been in the apartment for over ten years and had grown very accustomed to having lots of space for my art and art supplies. I work in several mediums - photography, painting and multimedia (film and animation)  - and I participate in shows on a regular basis, so you can imagine the amount of space I can potentially fill up over time.

I also loved the location and close proximity to Sausal Creek. The back area included a two level deck surrounded by oak trees. The trees and creek provided a home for all kinds of birds and wildlife including owls, raccoons, salamanders, opossum, squirrels and crows. I think I miss hearing the crows most of all and the sound of the running water in the creek following a heavy rain.

I am now renting a room in Berkeley. Even my room is very nice, I would like to have my own place again. I know this is unlikely to happen in the SF Bay Area because the cost of living is so high. It is definitely beyond my current means. Even so, I refuse to give up the dream. So this piece, destined for the flames, will be like a wish going out into the universe. I don't expect that it will happen, but it would be lovely if it did, and I intend to share my refuge with others should that fortunate day ever arrive.

Where the Heart Lies in various sections and stages of production:

The first step was finding the right nest. Everything was going to be built around that.  I wanted something that looked "woodsy" because it is my wish to be surrounded by tall trees, birds and wildlife. I also wanted to have a rich red wine color for the background. In this photo, the nest is placed on my bathrobe. I had not yet found the right fabric.

I experimented a few times with the branches. The first set was three dimensional, but they looked too much like round tubes, so I decided to go with the flat cardboard backing and quilted surface. This gave me more control over the shape and direction of the branches. Here you can see the cotton batting underneath the felt. The branches are shaped to resemble arteries coming out of the heart.

I made use of the wabi sabi nature of my stitches by painting darker lines on top of the stitches, sides and trunk. Later, I added moss and green felt leaves to give the impression that the tree and nest had been growing for some time.

I thought the classical looking clay head sculpture would be a good addition to the nest along with the small booklet, silver birthday candles, coins and glass vase. I didn't realize the bottle included the words "Life, Health and Vitality" until after I had already glued it down into the nest. How fortunate is that?!

The flowers and bits of beeswax represent my desire to have a thriving garden, one that would hopefully attract birds, bees and other benevolent insects. The fortune was another lucky find. The words seemed perfect for the overall theme. I used to host a film club, artist gatherings and holiday parties when I lived in the spacious apartment near Sausal Creek. I would like to do that again someday when I have the right space. Maybe then I will have picked up more advanced cooking skills! I plan to start learning more about cooking within the next few weeks, so I will have a good head start.

Here is a view of the main trunk where the two arteries meet. I incorporated some real branches that I found while walking home from work one day. They added a lot of dimension to the piece which the Burning Man viewers will see. It's not quite evident in the 2d photos here.

Here is an overview of the completed piece. It was challenging to photograph due to the contrasty surfaces of white paper, metallic gold and silver and the deep browns and reds of the nest, trunk and background fabric. This snapshot was the best I could do. It gives you a rough idea though, short of going to the event itself and seeing it in-person.

Thanks again to Raven Ebner for inviting me to participate. I'm looking forward to seeing photos of the installation as a whole. I will include links in my blog when the time comes.


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