Introducing the 2019 Black Rock City Honoraria

As the 2019 Burning Man season kicks into gear, Burning Man Arts is thrilled to announce the art installations selected for Black Rock City Honoraria Grants.

Some Insights into Our Selection Process

In the Art Department, we celebrate ALL artists, we fund some artists, and we give as much as we can. It is important to note that the projects we fund reflect an experience we hope to create, rather than a value judgment we are trying to impart.

When we sit down to review proposals, we intend to select and fund a range of artworks. We’re always thinking about interactivity and diversity, such as verticality, horizontal ‘fields’, playfulness, inventiveness, artist history with us (we want to honor long-standing artists while also supporting brand new artists and plenty of folks in between), the environment we will create, relationship to the annual theme, and the sheer creativity.

This year, we sat down with 340 proposals and arrived at 190 we thought we’d like to fund. That meant we needed to let go of 117 artworks to arrive at the 70-some artworks we can fund with the resources we have.

There is so much fantastic work, and often the rudimentary sketch is the basis for an amazing artwork, and the ‘never been an artist’ project could turn into an incredible lifelong career. We work to create a vibrant collection, and then we work to keep the door open for anyone else to register and join.


Our Dedication to Support

Each year, at least 75% of the artworks on playa come without cash support from Burning Man Project. We are serious about our commitment to support ALL artists, so there are many other ways that we help artists to ensure their projects are successful.

We build relationships with each artist through the Art Department, ARTery and Art Support Services (ASS), pre event and on playa. Pre-event, we review every project for safety, materials, lighting, fire, Leave No Trace, anchoring etc.; we communicate individually with every single artist; we respond to hundreds of questions; and we connect artists with resources to find solutions or generally help their project. On playa, the Art Support Services team checks in regularly with artists during the build to see what resources they might need.


In many cases, the projects receive extra support such as tickets, heavy equipment, and promotion via the Burning Man website and Jackrabbit Newsletter, which encourages others to give time and resources to the artists.

And we truly bring all the heart we can to all of it. This includes the dedicated teams of 200+ volunteers who staff the ARTery, think about art discovery and artist appreciation, and support projects with fire.

Highlights and Themes

“Cathenge” by David Normal

This year, the artworks will reflect our sense of FUN (Toxic Unicorn, Fucking Useless, Purr Pods), our sense of PLACE (The Spa at Lake Lahontan, Awful’s Gas & Snack, Mega Mega, The Dollhouse, Intersection X), and our love of the GRAND (The Folly, Reared in Steel’s Fire Kethedral, and The Monumental Mammoth).

You will find places to rest and be quiet, unique creations you can’t yet imagine, and some striking sculptural work. And there are many interpretations of this year’s Metamorphoses theme, including Mariposita, Transmutation, and Chritonium Clock to name just a few.

“Wings of Glory” by Adrian Landon and the Dusty Sparks

There are projects that float (Skywhale, Sagrada Perihelia) and projects that sing (Shrine of Sympathetic Resonance, The Beat Box, Sputnik Theremin). You’ll experience a love of the literary, from a giant pop-up book to a beautiful tree made of books, to The Flybrary — a book-filled head with ravens emerging and flying from the crown.

You will discover a whole menagerie of animals spread throughout the desert, from cats, bees, and a variety of sea creatures, to a range of mythical beasts including a flaming phoenix and a glorious flying pegasus.

“Fire Kethedral” by Kevin Clark and Reared in Steel

There are homages to Dali and to the Wizard of Oz. We have a magician from Montreal and a Girl Scout from Las Vegas. The folks who brought the amazing Huichol-beaded dinosaurs last year are returning with a new creation, and Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson have evolved their penny-covered sculptures to include surprising new materials.

Many of your favorite Black Rock City artists are coming back for more, including the Flaming Lotus Girls, Michael Christian, the Iron Monkeys, and Christopher Schardt. And there’s so much more we can’t even describe here; you’ll just have to come experience it for yourself!

“Skywhale” by Blake Marcus and Accidental Adventure

We’re pleased to report that 12 international projects received Honoraria grants this year: three from Canada, two from Great Britain, two from Russia, and one each from Chile, France, Mexico, Portugal, and Sweden. There are several artists that have just started making art in the last few years, and seven Honoraria recipients that will be coming to Black Rock City for the first time.

“Wheels of Zoroaster Resurrection” by Anton Viditz-Ward

And no report on Burning Man art would be complete without mentioning that 25 of the 73 Honoraria projects will play with fire (including a dazzling combination of a fire tornado and tesla coil! How has that not happened in BRC yet?). Plus we are returning to our roots in performance art, with some places to do flow (fire) art performance, circus and aerial work, and other ways to play and create spectacle. (Stay tuned for how we are going to animate the Man Pavilion!)

There’s so much to be excited about, and we can’t wait to share it all with you. Please save the date for Desert Arts Preview! Sunday, June 2, 6pm at the Sydney Goldstein Theater (formerly the Nourse Theater) in San Francisco. This year we’ll feature some extended opportunities to hang out and have fun with us, along with special live presentations by this year’s featured artists.

A Note About the Temple

Last year, we created a new grant program just for the Temple. The Temple isn’t dependent on the annual theme, so we adjusted the timeline and started the submission process earlier in the year.

In December, we announced the 20th incarnation of the Temple: The Temple of Direction, designed by Geordie Van Der Bosch. We are thrilled that the crew has already been working for several months to build this elegant structure.

How to Get Involved

Of course, most of the almost 400 art installations in BRC are projects that people do on their own, with or without outside funding. So peruse the 2019 BRC Honoraria projects, and if you have some vision that is missing from the list, you are warmly invited to make it happen. If you have skills to contribute and want to help an existing art project, please check out our collaboration tool Spark.

And so without further ado, we’d like to introduce this year’s Honoraria recipients. Drum roll please…

The 2019 Black Rock City Honoraria Recipients

Archaeopteryx — Nicholas DeBruyne — London, United Kingdom

Awful’s Gas & Snack — Matthew Gerring and Crank Factory — San Francisco, CA

Bee Divine Hive Temple — Elizabeth Huebner and The Hive — Fairfield, IA

Bee or Not to Bee — Mr & Mrs Ferguson — Alameda, CA

Bounce Back — Sarah Gonsalves and Sassy Galaxy — Los Angeles, CA

Carousel Zarya — Alexander Dovydenkov and Carousel Zarya — Moscow, Russia

Cathenge — David Normal — Stinson Beach, CA

Chakra Cannon — Joshua Pipic and Cannon Crew — Emeryville, CA

Chapel Perilous — Robert Leifheit and Enchanted Booty Forest — Los Angeles, CA

Circus Fabulae (Ring of Play, Ring of Stories) — Benjamin Jones and Populus Ludere (Play People) — Brooklyn, NY

Cloud Swing / Cloud Swing Storm — Lindsay Glatz and Miracle Wonderland Carnival Co. — New Orleans, LA

Corpus — Michael Christian — Berkeley, CA

Cosmo — Roger Heitzman — Scotts Valley, CA

Critonium Clock — Alena Starostina — San Francisco, CA

Desert WAVE — Anthony Rowe and Squidsoup — Cheltenham, United Kingdom

Elephantes: Hommage au Dali — Jack Champion — Oakland, CA

Fan Coral — Bryson Allen — San Diego, CA

Fragments, 2019 — Marc Ippon de Ronda and ATO Designs Studio — Paris, France

Fucking Useless — Amy Lamboley and Don’t Trust Wizards — San Francisco, CA

Giant Pinball Machine — Benjamin Newman — Roseville, CA

Global Fire and Flow Nexus — Nick Heyming and The Emerald Village — Vista, CA

I.L.Y. — Dan Mountain — Portola Valley, CA

Internal Exposure — Jessica Levine — South Lake Tahoe, CA

Le Metamorphose Des Animaux Extraordinaires — Esmeralda Nadeau-Jasso — Winlaw, Canada

Liberty Neko — Jose Maluenda — Santiago, Chile

Mariposita — Chris Carnabuci — Cold Spring, NY

Mega Mega — Kevin Bourque — Los Angeles, CA

Metamorphatoad — Taylor Collier — South Lake Tahoe, CA

Night Light Tree — Kathleen Smith — West Hollywood, CA

Niloticus — Peter Hazel — Reno, NV

Nirmanakaya — Michael Emery — Santa Cruz, CA

No Place Like Home — Trey Watkins, Mara Greenberg, Alan Becker and Frogma — San Francisco, CA

O NOME DA ROSA – Solar ignition fire & mechanical energy generator — Nuno Paulino — Loures, Portugal

Optical Illusion Wheel — Joe Culpepper — Outremont, Canada

Paraluna — Christopher Schardt — Oakland, CA

Penguin Colony — Quill Hyde and Acavallo — Tonasket, WA

Phoenix Rising — Lisa Nigro and Draka Arts — San Antonio, TX

Pieuvre — Kelly Schott and A.S.A.P. Arts Collective — San Diego, CA

Plaza of Introspectus — Iron Monkey Arts — Seattle, WA

Portal — David Oliver and Art City Monsters — Ventura, CA

Purr Pods — Stephanie Paige Tashner and Laser Eyes of Love — Richmond, CA

Puzzles and Prayers – Reinventing the Prayer Wheel — Gwen Darling, Gwen and Josh Art— Reno, NV

Quality of Life — Josh Vaile — Reno, NV

Reared In Steel’s Fire Kethedral — Kevin Clark and Reared in Steel, LLC — Petaluma, CA

REFUGE — Shrine and The Woods West Oakland — Oakland, CA

Sagrada Perihelia — Brandon Harvey — Los Angeles, CA

Serenity — Flaming Lotus Girls — San Francisco, CA

Skywhale: The Not ShyWhale — Blake Marcus and Accidental Adventure — Amherst, MA

Sputnik Theremin — Ulf Ljungdahl — Oxelosund, Sweden

Stone Three Point Twenty Seven — Ben Langholz — Altadena, CA

Syzygy — Taylor Dean Harrison — Oakland, CA

Taking Flight — Nicki Adani — Mill Valley, CA

The Bard’s Branch — Pamela Ward — San Francisco, CA

The Beat Box — Frank Myers and The Phage / The Institute — Richmond, CA

The Dollhouse — House of Strange Rituals — Eugene, OR

The Flybrary — Christina Sporrong — Taos, NM

The Folly — Dave Keane and Folly Builders — San Francisco, CA

The Heads — Jeremy Suurkivi and Major Crimes — San Francisco, CA

The Intersection X — Anna Yudina and Invisible Pink Unicorns — Moscow, Russia

The Man’s Army — Michael Ciulla — Los Angeles, CA

The Monumental Mammoth — Tahoe Mack, with The Protectors of Tule Springs, Dana Albany, and Luis Valera- Rico — Las Vegas, NV

The Sabbatical — Andrew White and Neophyte Nexus — Toronto, Canada

The Shrine of Sympathetic Resonance — Tyson Ayers and Sympathetic Resonances — Oakland, CA

The Spa at Lake Lahontan — Catie Magee, Jennifer Blakeslee, Ben Anderson, and Aaron Dana — San Francisco, CA

The Towers of Crete — Daniel Fennelly — Oakland, CA

The Tree of Life — Tyler J. Rivenbark & The Institute for Human Creativity — San Francisco, CA

The Wheels of Zoroaster Resurrection — Anton Viditz-Ward — Telluride, CO

Theophany — Matthew Goodman and Coup De Foudre — San Francisco, CA

Toxic Unicorn — Madeleine Hamann and Unicorn Liberation Front — San Diego, CA

Transmutation — Arturo Gonzalez and Arte Conciencia S.C. — Saltillo, Mexico

Welcome Home — Joey Howell and Salt Mind — Salt Lake City, UT

Windchest — Ange Sarno — Watertown, MA

Wings of Glory — Adrian Landon and the Dusty Sparks — New York, NY

Full project descriptions with images and links will be available later in the spring.

Top photo: “The Flybrary” by Christina Sporrong

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