I like big tools. Powerful tools. At first, they intimidated me. But In the midst of extreme heat and flying sparks, with liquid metal pooling before my eyes, I have seen new life emerge from raw material, and an entire universe open up. The process of building Taking Flight serves as a perfect metaphor, allowing me to conquer my fears and persevere.

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I met my husband at Burning Man in 2004, and we returned almost every year until our first child was born.  It is the biggest playground and most awe-inspiring art exhibit in the world; being there gives me a sense of joy and freedom that I have never found anywhere else. I knew we would go back when the children were old enough to appreciate it, but until last summer, I had no idea that I would return as an artist.

Birds and wings have been the emphasis of my sculpting work from the start, as they inspire a feeling of freedom and empowerment.  A few months ago, an image of a falcon taking flight off a giant wheel came to me. A second later, that image was superimposed on the canvas of the beautiful Black Rock Desert where Burning Man takes place, and I knew I had to build it.  

It was not until I took an early maquette to a foundry to be made that the image of the playa reasserted itself, and I knew that Taking Flight was not meant to sit on a shelf. It was destined to be a giant figure at Burning Man, carrying its meaning of awakening and spreading one’s wings to fly freely into the world. Once I made the decision, the Burning Man application deadline was due in exactly nine days. There was no time to waste or to second-guess myself. I would have to learn a million things I did not know, including metal fabrication. Luckily, I like a challenge so as soon as I got back to the studio I began to build a prototype.

My dream quickly became a reality when Burning Man accepted my piece and awarded me a grant to get me started on bringing Taking Flight to life.

Not too many months from now, after days of intensive labor, my 20-person crew (many of whom are old friends coming from overseas), The North Bay Makers, will throw down our tools and look up at this beautiful, illuminated bird on wheels, ready to spread her wings, just as the process of constructing her has allowed me to spread mine.