Renwick Gallery: Burning Man

I don't know much about Burning Man.

I've certainly heard of this mystical festival in the middle of nowhere, where fire comes into play, and effigies are created for a purpose.

But beyond that, I couldn't tell you where it takes place, for how long, or even where the inspiration for this festival of pure creativity sprang from.

From the ashes no doubt!

Burning Man takes place every year in the Nevada Black Rock Desert — where a city comes together from the dust of the desert. The thriving temporary metropolis known as Burning Man is a hotbed of artistic ingenuity, driving innovation through its principles of radical self-expression, decommodification, communal participation, and reverence for the handmade. Both a cultural movement and an annual event, Burning Man remains one of the most influential phenomenons in contemporary American art and culture. — Renwick Gallery

Evotrope, Richard Wilks.

When we were in DC back in June we decided to peek into the Renwick Gallery after a late lunch.

And so we entered the labyrinth of the Renwick Gallery for their limited-time Burning Man exhibit, No Spectators.

Paper Arch, Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti

I still don't think I could do an explanation of Burning Man justice, but oh was I inspired.

The Gallery was filled with reproductions of structures created for Burning Man in the most recent years.

From the 10ft tall dancer sculpture, to a metal race car resembling a viking dragonboat, to a chalkboard room where you could write down your dreams and hopes in response to the profound prompt "Before I die..."

Truth is Beauty, Michael Cochrane, 2017.

Tin Pan Dragon, Duane Flatmo

But my favorite was the wooden Temple.

Soaring ceilings were covered bottom to top with individual panels of pine to display intricate designs.

Temple, David Best, 2018.

Personal inscriptions, prayers, and vows were written on many of the panels emphasizing the spiritual presence of healing in this place.

It was breathtaking and moving.

Beyond the wooden sanctuary you found the whimsical, illuminated mushrooms that change form with the press of a button.

Shrumen Lumen, Foldhaus Art Collective.

The intense feeling of 'No Spectators' is what makes this such a powerful exhibit.

Think about that — no spectators.

This is the long standing motto of the festival.

Where the purpose of Burning Man is that everyone should feel open to be involved, to be present, and to fully embody the spirit of the festival in whatever way you as an individual can best do that.

Even in this borrowed gallery space, you can feel the energy of Burning Man.

I felt emboldened to just stand in awe at the structures around me — to feel hope in the chalkboard room and write my 'Before I die' dreams on the wall for anyone to see, to stand in silent reverence in the wooden chapel with my neck arched back to admire the handiwork all the way at the top of the ceiling, and to be playful in the multicolored mushroom room.

You walk out and feel inspired — as though you could create something just as beautiful out of any material placed in front of you.

No spectating — can you imagine that feeling?

Imagine if we all believed in the power we have to be innovative and fully present in this life.

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