“Boundless Space” Artist Stories Part 8: Bringing the Big Art From Black Rock City

Welcome to the eighth in our Boundless Space storytelling series, which introduces just a few of the astonishing artists who have contributed work to the online auction, Boundless Space: The Possibilities of Burning Man. Proceeds from the Boundless Space auction are supporting participating artists and Burning Man Project.

DJs spun; Burners in goggles, fake fur and spandex wandered Sotheby’s Manhattan gallery and danced on its roof. It was a playful takeover of an established art institution. Back in October a wild crew of Burners teamed up with an iconic auction house with the shared goal of supporting artists, and Burning Man Project. 

It has been, and continues to be a challenging time for artists and for the nonprofit organizations that support them. Our collaboration with Sotheby’s succeeded at establishing new connections and generating funds for the participating artists and Burning Man Project.

But wait… the Boundless Space charitable auction isn’t over yet! Until January 6, 2022, there are still quite a few amazing artworks by a diverse group of creators available for those who are interested. If big art is your thing, also up for sale are a handful Black Rock City artworks created by artists whose names you might recognize!

Read on to meet some of the Black Rock City artists who generously contributed their work to the Boundless Space charitable sale.

Mischell Riley

Sculptor Mischell Riley in Black Rock City with her sculpture “Inside the Mind of daVinci,” 2016 (Photo by Scott R. Kline)

“I listen to a sacred inner voice that guides my heart and hands. I have always needed art to feel alive. As a child, I drew all night, carved all the soap bars in the house, and spent countless recesses tucked away with a sketch pad.”

“Maya’s Mind” by Mischell Riley, 2017 (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Riley brought “Maya’s Mind” to Black Rock City in 2017; it was her fifth large-scale Burning Man installation. “I have always been inspired by Maya Angelou,” Riley shared. “When [Maya] reads her poems it’s as if words of wisdom were pulled right out of the heavens and into my heart.”

Rosanna Scimeca

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

“I realized early on in my art journey that experiencing art in public spaces was very different from experiencing art indoors or on a wall. While I appreciate the intimacy of the gallery, I have been most profoundly inspired by the experience of art under an open sky or in an unexpected environment — rural or urban — like turning a corner on a city street and suddenly encountering an abstract majestic form.”

“Cleavage in Space” by Rosana Scimeca, 2003 (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Scimeca’s work has been shown in numerous landscapes and venues, in public and private spaces, indoors and outdoors, and seen by hundreds of thousands of people. “Cleavage in Space” was a breakthrough piece for her: “It was my first artwork of that scale. The process laid a foundation for my understanding of structure and for working with a team.”

Marco Cochrane

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

For more than 20 years, Marco Cochrane has sculpted in clay and cast in bronze, primarily women who chose their own poses, their own expressions. In 2007 he went to Black Rock City and was inspired to take his art and his message in a new direction. In 2009 he returned, and it was then he realized how he could enlarge his sculptures to monumental proportions while maintaining their integrity, thus magnifying their impact. 

“R-Evolution” by Marco Cochrane, 2015 (Photo by Bill Klemens)

“R-Evolution,” which debuted at Burning Man in 2015, features a woman named Deja Solis expressing her humanity. There is no overt action in her expression; she is not dancing in the face of danger, she is not reaching to meet herself and find her own truth. It is the third and final sculpture in “The Bliss Project,” a series of three monumental sculptures intended to be catalysts for social change. 

Jessica Levine

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

“I create art to cause people to think in different ways and to push the boundaries of what is possible. My sociological background paired with my artistic and technical fabrication skills allow me to create large scale metal sculptures with deep conceptual meanings… Building sculptures is what I truly love to do with all of my heart.”

“FloBot” by Jessica Levine, 2018 (Photo courtesy of the artist)

‘FloBot’ is a 14-foot-tall interactive flower-like steel sculpture with a character all her own,” Levine writes. “She stands on exposed roots as she evolves into a blossomed being. People may climb up the roots and ‘get inside her head’ bouncing and rocking with the use of large suspension springs. Flo represents the notion of learning to flow with all of the parts of one’s self, and finding strength within them.”

Five Ton Crane 

(Photo courtesy of the artists)

Five Ton Crane (5TC) is a diverse group of artists, builders, makers and inventors from the San Francisco Bay Area. The name implies the intention: 5TC does the heavy lifting that the individual artist couldn’t do on their own, by pooling resources, interests and talent to create opportunities for bigger, better and bolder art.

“The Capitol Theater” by Bree Hylkema, Sean Orlando & Five Ton Crane, 2018 (Photo courtesy of the artists)

“The Capitol Theater” is an immersive and interactive art experience… an Art Deco movie theater on wheels. This collaboratively constructed driving movie palace is full of the wondrous detailed work that Five Ton Crane is known for. The silent films playing in “The Capitol Theater” are all specifically created for this venue by Obsolete Pictures, commissioned by the Renwick Gallery.

Kate Raudenbush 

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

New York-based, Burning Man-bred sculpture artist and designer Kate Raudenbush learned early on to creatively adapt to her surroundings as her family relocated six times to four different countries by the age of 14, where she observed clearly that “the most unifying identifier of humanity is found in it’s creative culture. What we cherish and what we create represents who we are. Art is a conduit through which humanity understands itself.”

“Stadium of the Self” by Kate Raudenbush, 2005 (Photo courtesy of the artist)

“Stadium of the Self” is a chamber of self reflection to resonate with Black Rock City’s 2005 Psyche theme. Now restored, the octagonal chamber’s steel walls open into a cocoon of amber mirrors that reflect the viewer’s face 71 times simultaneously in a single beam of light. Raudenbush observes, “When you look into the stands for approval or judgment you are faced with an audience of one, simultaneously multiplied seventy times. It is only ourselves that we judge or accept.”

Quest Skinner

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

A mixed-media artist, teacher, and community activist, Quest Skinner is influenced by the energy of cityscapes, music and the personalities she encounters everyday. Then in her studio she brings them into her world; a world that takes raw feelings, vibrations and various moments in our lives and captures them with flowing pigments.

“Agartha Is Illuminated (As Above, So Below)” by Quest Skinner, 2021 (Photo courtesy of the artist)

“Agartha Is Illuminated (As Above, So Below)” features a winsome mermaid, emblazoned with colorful resin, whimsical creatures, found objects, and more than a little playa magic. Agartha sits atop reclaimed kiln-dried cedar with a river poured inlay on the underside. Her hands are one with the ocean floor, foliage, fossils, land animals, and sea creatures.

James LeFemina

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

“I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t interested in creating art.” LeFemina writes. “I relive the personal in my art every day as I chip away stone to find the soft curves inside. The curves are what fascinate me most. They’re everywhere, universal, feminine. I want people to crawl through them to the other side — to touch them, follow them, and find what’s beyond the curve — whatever they imagine that to be.”

“Replay” by James LeFemina, 2017 (Photo courtesy of the artist)

‘Replay’ “speaks to the idea of just plugging in and playing with a nod to pareidolia.” La Femina explains, “This 2.5 ton rare white slab of California marble has golden intrusions mimicking the power that would flow to an outlet. Difficult to find, quarry, and shape, the marble was forged into a legible face that is a wink at general entitlement: showing up and having everything done for you. Finally, the outlet itself is grounded in a strong natural base — where the sculptor finds himself.”

Cover image: “R-Evolution” by Marco Cochrane, 2015 (Photo by John Chandler)

About the author: Kirsten Weisenburger

Kirsten Weisenburger

Misadventures led Kirsten Weisenburger (aka kbot) to Black Rock City in 2004. She was captivated and hoodwinked into organizing theme camps, rangering and participating in Regional Events. As Communications Strategist, Kirsten works across the organization and global community gathering stories and writing for the Burning Man Journal, the Jackrabbit Speaks, and the annual Dispatch. She went to journalism school in the 1990s and then spent two decades at startups and digital agencies.

One comment on ““Boundless Space” Artist Stories Part 8: Bringing the Big Art From Black Rock City

  • Timothy O Groden says:

    The “Replay” I was just looking at the art pics and came across Replay, a stone sculpture of an electrical outlet. I thought something is wrong. There’s a ground, a hot. and a common. Problem, the hot and the common are backwards. It’s art, maybe the artist is inside the box looking out “where the sculptor finds himself”

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