Art Beyond Burning Man – Making, Thinking, Understanding

Building art for Burning Man always seemed to be part of my yearly cycle. I love what I have been a part of creating in Black Rock City; I have grown up and cut my teeth building art out on that remarkable desert canvas. Over the last several years, though, I’ve found myself bringing more art to life out here, “beyond the fence.” Thanks to the efforts of so many, we can now cite several instances of Burning Man art in many cities around the world.

Zoa Crew Photo by Kim Sikora
Flux’s Zoa Crew Photo by Kim Sikora

At FLUX we have created 12 works of art in our 4 years of existence. This is something we are truly proud of. We’ve successfully made interactive art accessible to a wide audience, and we use this art as a platform to engage people in the core values we have cultivated as Burning Man artists. Our works have been experienced by people in Oakland, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and now, San Francisco. Sometimes, we are so busy building we forget to take a moment to celebrate and share what we’re creating. In this case, we are celebrating our newest interactive sculpture, Carousel.

Flux Building Carousel
Building Carousel Photo by Jess Hobbs

Inspired by the shared experience and wonder of the swing rides of childhood carnivals, Carousel uses a variety of materials, a playful color palette and communal interaction to create an immersive environment. In this space, people will contribute to a cumulative visual expanse, reflect on inspiration, and engage in conversation. Participants will return to a sense of wonder as they sit beneath and contribute to its creation.

Flux Building Carousel
Building Carousel Photo by Jess Hobbs

Carousel has been commissioned by the Abundance Foundation and built for Making, Thinking, Understanding, a conference created by Harvard’s Project Zero. The conference will start tomorrow, October 10-12, 2014 at Lick Willmerding High School in San Francisco.

At Project Zero Perspectives conferences, educators from all contexts are invited to learn from and alongside Project Zero researchers and practitioners. The Project Zero team includes leading researchers, writers, thinkers and leaders in the field of teaching and learning. Their interests include investigations into the nature of intelligence, understanding, thinking, creativity, ethics and other essential aspects of human learning.

With the overarching theme of Making, Thinking, Understanding, the conference will invite educators to reflect deeply on ways to create and sustain engaging, enriching and rigorous learning opportunities. In exploring tools, strategies, and frameworks developed at Project Zero and inspired by the host school’s goal of “developing the head, heart, and hands” of students.

Do you notice some significant parallels to the values inherent in the 10 principles? Immediacy, Participation, Civic Responsibility – What other principles do you see?

Building Carousel Photo by Jess Hobbs
Building Carousel Photo by Jess Hobbs

Carousel is the result of a couple of years of conversations between FLUX, Project Zero and the Abundance Foundation.

It’s funny how projects happen. In the case of Carousel, the seeds were planted a few years ago with FLUX’s TweetHaus project at Park Day School in Oakland. Abundance took notice of this innovative “learning through doing” program, and they introduced us to Project Zero. We had some great conversations with the Project Zero team, but we couldn’t yet figure out exactly what to create together. This summer, the right time and place for collaboration happened. The result: stunning new interactive sculpture bringing to life the Burning Man principles that infuse our work.

Building Carousel Photo by Jess Hobbs
Building Carousel Photo by Jess Hobbs

Like all of our sculpture, it takes a whole lot of amazing FLUX artists to make beautiful interactive art!

Many thanks go to a stellar team of creators. Here are they are in no particular order – Thwen, June, Sterling, Will, PK, Ben, Jen, Chris, Katie, Paul, Jonny, Max, Steve, James, Cliff, Dalia, Catie, Jordana, Kip, Elizabeth, Lish, Summer, Ashley and a few more good souls I’m sure forgetting.

Carousel Builders
Carousel Builders Photo by Jess Hobbs

About the author: Jess Hobbs

People have often described Jessica Hobbs as someone trying to lead a compulsively artistic life, which is more or less true. She started off her adventure in a small Sierra Foothill town and eventually meandered her way to the San Francisco Bay Area. Along the way Jess has worn many hats; running and creating community art programs, counseling teenagers, curating, exhibiting, designing, photographing and creating monumental interactive art experiences. She is an MFA graduate from the San Francisco Art Institute and has been wandering and creating in the dust fest for well over a decade. Collaboration is her magic ingredient for success in work, community, art and life. This can be seen through her founding and directing work with the Flux Foundation and All Power Labs.

29 Comments on “Art Beyond Burning Man – Making, Thinking, Understanding

  • marijo mangin says:

    burning man it’s a place I love… I’am very happy to see some pictures and videos from the desert and the beautifull machines and the hapyness every where !!! Thank you kisses from france

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  • Dragon says:

    Love a woman on a chop-saw!

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    • Krazy Kajun says:

      If your thumb gets smashed by a hammer.. it won’t matter if it was a woman or a man swinging it; it’ll still be smashed..BUT everyone will know what ass hole but his thumb in the way of a swinging hammer…
      GO GIRL… Strut your stuff….. :-)

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  • Steve Friedlander says:

    Where’s your eye protection woman on chop-saw?

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  • Jess Hobbs says:

    Steve has a good eye. Yes I agree our Flux artist should have been wearing protective eyewear, which you’ll be happy to know she put on immediately after the picture was taken. Unfortunately, this image is not a great example of the safely gear we are normally wearing in the shop.

    As for you Janus, your ignorant and misogynistic statement is laughable. By your statement I assume you don’t value any of the work you’ve see at Burning Man because it is often built by women, who are doing anything but pretending. I give you an open invitation to come to the Flux shop any time an see how many women are working with tools, teaching others skills, and not pretending. Hell, I’d even show you around the shop myself.

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  • Janus says:

    @Jess Hobbs
    >because it is often built by women

    Not very often.

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    • Jess Hobbs says:

      >Not that often

      Janus are you just having fun or is your thinking really that antiquated? Also I noticed that you ignored my invitation to visit our shop. Are you scared that a woman might have to teach you something?

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  • Dave Marr says:

    Anyone who actually attends Burning Man or knows anything about the art built for the playa knows who JESS HOBBS is. She is one of many talented female artists/makers/doers in the Bay Area.

    And another thing… Burning Man org itself has long been run by many strong women and men. The Man has no male distinction for precisely this reason.

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  • Karen Tarapata says:

    I think that responding to Janus is foolish, as the man is obviously a troll who is trying only to antagonize.

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  • Autumn says:

    Either Janus is ignorant and doesn’t know the Bay Area big art scene or he’s just trolling.

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  • Jason decook says:

    janus, please understand that burning man is built by STRONG WOMEN AND SENSITIVE MEN. Do you qualify? (Thanks David marr)

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  • Janus says:

    The exceptions prove the rule. Some women do work out there. The VAST majority of the work, however, is performed by men. BM is not some egalitarian paradise where women do half the work. They just get the majority of photographs taken of them whenever one of them picks up a hammer. Hive fives all around whenever a woman pulls out a 12 inch piece of rebar.

    If you interviewed 1,000 women exiting the playa, less than 1% could say they picked up a hammer or a screwdriver all week. Most would be proud that they had their men do all the work – that their job was to look pretty all week.

    Y’all upset because the truth hurts.

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  • Autumn says:

    So you thought you’d come onto a thread by a woman who has consistently helped (physically, with hammers and EVERYTHING!) produce some of the best art pieces out there to bash women for not building as much as you think they should?

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  • Autumn says:

    Look at the top picture. Look at the mix of men and women. Everyone who was in that picture physically helped build that project. Every one of them.

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  • Janus says:

    @Autumn

    >and bash women for not building as much as you think they should?

    How does the truth ‘bash’ women? How is the truth misogyny? That’s dangerous thinking, it’s group thinking.

    Certainly women, if they are equal (as they demand they are) should be building half of everything on the playa. They don’t. Is it the patriarchy that oppresses them, keeping hammers out of their hands? Nope.

    But the Burner culture wants us to believe that women are doing half or more of the work out there. It’s not true.

    Some women do more work than men. That’s true, too. But they’re the exceptions that prove the rule that the vast majority of female Burners don’t do jack shit on the playa, and expect their worker drone males to do it for them. That is the truth.

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    • Mindmooover says:

      A comment to Janus ( and to the tothers and concerning this topic of man-woman in general) : Is it not a little ultra-weird to frame a question like “are women and men equal”? This seems to have been made clear long ago my friends : 1 ) Men and women are OBVIOUSLY TOTALLY DIFFERENT in their physical structure , organic disposition and types of ability and with good reason , 2) The ability-set of the masculine and feminine COMPLEMENT and SUPPORT and MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER when functioning well together. 3 The masculine needs the feminine to be complete while the feminine needs the masculine to be complete and the entire point of life is that they BOTH WORK TOGETHER as one powerful uNIT : then there is LOVE. Love is what these one-sided perspectives of the “femin-ists” and “man-ists” and various other “us-or-them”-ists are always PERSISTENTLY MISSING ( with a crappy athmosphere and low quality time for all involved parties as a result ) : When these different traits and skills and tendencies and styles and natural abilities are WORKING EFFECTIVELY TOGETHER , with differences VALUED as part of a potential super solution , is the moment where EVERYONE WILL WIN!!!

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  • Jelly says:

    Janus,

    Do you lift a hammer out there? Where do your statements about women not working come from?

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  • Jess Hobbs says:

    As we can all see @Janus is quite a piece of work. By the “I’ve camped on the esplanade for 3 years” statement it would seem Janus is still very “green” in terms of respect, knowledge and understanding of who actually works at the event. I imagine Janus’ lack of understanding comes from some personal experience. Instead of anger we should have pity for this individual, hope enlightenment bashes them over the head and move on. We all know who does the work and Janus’ lack of vision won’t change that.

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  • Kimric Smythe says:

    @ Jess does you Husband know about this?

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  • Jake says:

    Don’t feed the trolls (unless its to the Flaming Lotus Girls’ Serpent Mother) ‘=;(l)

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  • tracydon says:

    Hello new Burner, Janus. Just remember, if you go to Burning Man without expectations, you won’t be disappointed. I’m sure you will have a good time doing whatever it is you do out there. Now please be a good troll, and leave the artsy people alone.

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  • quegee says:

    Janus, do you think swinging a hammer/making art is the only ‘work’ that gets done on the playa?

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  • Karen Tarapata says:

    I keep thinking of the Temple Build and Babs up the ladder with the nail gun. In a white out. But of course, Janus couldn’t see her (or you up in the lift, Jess) because he was camping on the Esplanade.

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  • Mohawkdog says:

    Everyone here should just ignore Janus.
    Jess is a beautiful, strong, creative worker that I’ve had the pleasure to work with in the past.
    I’ve experienced that everyone that goes to Burning Man early builds, no matter if they’re women or men. I’m sorry that Janus happened to be in a camp where women dont work or whatever his mental issue is, let’s hope he solves it in the future. Maybe he just got deeply heartbroken by a woman and is bitter… Who knows. He just sounds ridiculous. Let’s just ignore him I say.

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  • tracydon says:

    But its fun to make fun of him… He’s kinda like the guy with the mop at the porno movie set mumbling to himself that the actors are “doin’ it wrong”

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  • bootbot says:

    My experience has been that there is some truth in what Janus has said ( ignoring the “photo-op” anger part ) . In our space, we have an unwritten rule, “show them, do not do” but it is difficult to stop unconscious ways and there will always be women who succumb to using the power of sexual tension to make use of men, and men who buy into that paradigm. ( and of course there are also men that succumb to using their “male authority”). If you deny this fact, even if it doesn’t exist in your bubble, then the meme can’t change. How about conversation about why it is, what can be done. My sense is that technology will make this less of a problem ( nail gun vs nail hammer ). Having taught over 200 women to weld, I have seen first hand what happens when you feel a mastery of material.

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  • Jennie Kay says:

    As a woman that has swung a sledgehammer for more than a decade on playa, I’m going to ignore that jackhole and toss some hands in the air for Miss Jess.

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  • LadySparrow says:

    I just had to comment in this…. I hammered 18″ rebar and pulled it out. It wasn’t easy. My fiancé and I took turns. And even he was wiped out and exhausted. It’s called technique. We had a way to get the rebar out even after it got cemented in by the rain. Our tent required 10 of those, so I think you should definitely reevaluate what ur saying about women. There are no pics of me pulling out rebar or just posing with a sledge hammer ( I wish there was!) I’m the handy woman and my fiancé is not!! He appreciates that in me and loves me for it and vice versa. So rock on Jess and keep up the good work. P.s. We all forget to wear safety googles sometimes ;) My dad would get under the car to work on it and he never wore goggles. Lol. I wonder if this Janus person is just testing to see what reaction he will get … Hmmm. Cuz I didn’t think close minded people came to burning man. I do agree that there are some woman who just like to pose for the picture, so what?! Enjoy the picture. If it weren’t for those sexy women, you wouldn’t have those amazing pics of their beautiful bodies now would you. There are all types of men and there are all types of women.

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  • R Savage says:

    Please keep me updated (anyone) with info for the next Burning Man… I’m very much interested in attending and investing my time and spirit into what seems to be an eye opening experience I could learn from….

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