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Making a Mutant Vehicle
students Genevieve Marsh BARch 16, Caitlyn Au 15 GL, Denali Schmidt 15 FAV and Joshua Shiau 15 ID are on a mission to create a cool
art car for this summer’s Burning Man festival in Black Rock, Nevada. Using Kickstarter, they’re hoping to
raise $3,800 by March 31 to fund the venture, which they call Project
art cars are painted, decorated and altered vehicles – often fancifully
transformed into pirate ships, lobsters, cupcakes or anything else creative
types cook up – and are the only motorized transportation allowed at Burning
Man. Each one must qualify for a DMV sticker – signifying authorization from the
“Department of Mutant Vehicles” – in order to be driven at the festival.
held in 1986, Burning Man started as a small annual fire party at Baker Beach
in San Francisco and has since grown into a pop-up city in the desert “dedicated
to radical self-reliance, radical self-expression and art.” The event takes
place on an ancient lakebed – known as the playa – where 48,000 people do
radically creative things together for one week each August.
a 1993 Previa minivan as the underlying structure, Marsh and her team will
create a huge mobile sculpture adorned with pinwheels created by contributors.
An 8.5” square pinwheel template is available to download from the RISD art car website, so that anyone who is interested can create his or her own moving
artwork to help the Mutant Vehicle live up to its name.
of Project Pinwheel is to “create
the space for people to share themselves creatively” and to
“give the power of the message back to the people,” Marsh says. That ethos
jibes with Burning Man’s philosophy of “radical inclusion,” and the team’s plan
to minimize their environmental impact by building their sculpture out of found
objects and recyclable materials reflects the festival’s core premise: leave no
trace. The four students plan to drive their art car out to Nevada and use it
as a living space during the festival.
successful Kickstarter campaign will enable Marsh to exercise her leadership
skills as well as her sensitivity to form in crafting the art car, while Shiau
is taking responsibility for
feasibility, functionality, visual impact and interactivity. Schmidt will make
a documentary film about the transformative elements of the piece, and Au is
charged with keeping the car building and the team’s practices true to the
principles of Burning Man.
Full of energy and optimism, the Project Pinwheel
team says their overall goal is to “make a statement with public art in a
global community” while tooling across the desert with “the pinwheels of
contributors fluttering in the breeze.”
tags: adaptive reuse
Project Pinwheel on Kickstarter
RISD art car site
Burning Man site