- Michael Christian
- Curtis Finger
- Scott Gasparian
- "Bonefire" Bob Hoffman
- Scott Kildall
- Henry Navarro
- Jack Schroll
- Nate Smith
- Charlie Smith
- Kal Spelletich
- Buzz Voelker
- Kasia Wojnarski
- Burning Ideas
- Fire Garden
- Flaming Lotus Girls
- Light Fantastic
- Nebula Project
Known for his large scale interactive sculptures and installations, Michael Christian is also a painter. Best known at Burning Man as the maker of the Bone Arch, The Nebulous Entity, Orbit, and Flock, he is extremely prolific year-round and accepts public and private commissions. For Fire Arts Festival 2004, Michael Christian is debuting a metal sculpture that will employ a propane-fueled flame.
Since 1988 freelance photographer Curtis Finger has allowed his talent at manipulating photography to disclose his own integral parts. His peculiar work over the years has earned him an Associates Degree from Foothill College and several awards including honorable mention from Photographer's Forum. His current exhibition has been shown internationally. Ardent dedication has led to the coveted appearance of his published photos in magazines, CD covers, web pages, and numerous group/solo exhibitions. For the last two years a poi-spinning obsession has expanded his artistic expressions. Consequently, his alluring photos intimately reflect his burning passion for fire performance art. The unveiling of his long work in progress "Night on Fire" effectively captures the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of the Bay Area Fire Scene.
Ever since he received his first serious electrical shock at age 4, and liked it, Scott Gasparian has been frankensteining machines and electricity. His recent collaborations with Tim Black resulted in the HypKnowTrons and miniaturization of the L2K technology. "Gaspo" currently lives around San Francisco and is experimenting with brain sensing devices to drive the HypKnowTrons to produce mass hallucinations.
"Bonefire" Bob Hoffman
Bob has been a resident of Soquel, in the Santa Cruz mountains, for over twenty years. About four years ago he started getting interested in building flame-effect devices. That led to the invention of the "Bonefire," a light-weight recreational flamethrower weighing less than five pounds and capable of shooting a ball of flame fifteen feet. After discovering that it's more fun to play the release cable than squeeze the lever, he realized that the Bonefire was a new musical instrument. He then designed something he calls "Pyrocussion," which is made up of vertically positioned flamethrowers that are played with drumsticks. Bob recently designed a third generation Pyrocussion instrument that will take full advantage of the new flaming drumsticks. Currently, he is working on finding the right people to develop the performance part of the project. His goal is to make a living creating fiery musical instruments, flamewear and firetoys.
Scott Kildall, born in 1969 in Monterey, California, lives in the Mission District of San Francisco. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political philosophy from Brown University. In 1998, he began producing documentary videos exposing the injustices of the prison-industrial complex, environmental racism and biased media coverage. He has since moved on to creating sculpture to examine the problem of access to art and its relation to American consumerism. His sculpture, always performative and interactive in nature, has been shown at galleries and underground venues in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also designed and presented several fire-based installations to wide acclaim at the Burning Man festival.
Scott's technical expertise includes welding, editing video, programming microcontrollers, building electronics and developing controlled pyrotechnic systems. He is committed to expanding access to arts. Scott teaches in the kinetics department at the Crucible and currently works out of a studio at an undisclosed location in the Bayview District of San Francisco.
Henry Navarro sculpts light. He studied art in Cuba, his birthplace, specializing in ceramics and sculpture. Before focusing on art, he received a degree in engineering, an experience which has greatly influenced the geometric and architectural aspects of his work in insulations and sculpture. In abstraction and simplicity, his pieces are an aperture towards self-reflection for the viewer. In his work, Henry interprets in a tangible plastic language the intimate relationships that occur in the natural world. His work has been commissioned by educational and cultural institutions, and has been shown at the National Museum of Contemporary Cuban Ceramics in Havana.
Jack Shroll's work is large, loud and complex. Jack says, "My field of trade is auto repair. I own an auto repair shop in Oakland, CA. I started 'Mostly Mustangs' in 1979. Against all odds I have stayed in business for 28 years. I deal directly with the public as well as turn wrenches. I enjoy my work and I find time for my hobbies including flying, pyrotechnics, racing, and riding motorcycles. Since the first time I started shooting fireworks in 1962, I have held a fascination for things that explode or burn. I have been directly involved with many large fireworks displays and I hold a federal low explosives license that allows me to buy 'the good stuff.' I have been attending Burning Man since 1996. At the end of the 2002 burn, I felt a need to give something back for all the enjoyment I received at the festival. After watching the Olympics in Australia I conceived the idea for El Diablo. During the finale the choreographer had several jets from the Aussie Air Force do a low fly by and dump their excess fuel into the afterburners; the effect was spectacular."
Nate Smith started working with fire as an art medium in 1977. He used large format cameras to photograph fireball explosions that he created in the remote reaches of Utah. This work led Nate to investigate different shapes of fire to photograph. While watching a burning field from his home in Utah, he saw a huge dust devil form from the heat and suck black soot up into it. It was then that he made the association to vortexes filled with fire. Nate's first vortex work was done in the summer of 1999. After some promising small designs, he built a large vortex machine with spinning wings ten feet across that developed a vortex from the center. That fall, the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Committee approached Nate to possibly have his vortex technology included in the design of the 2002 Olympic torch.
Nate first brought his fire art to Burning Man in 2002; he used the design of some of his first vortex tests and scaled them twenty times bigger. Nate used two giant five-foot fans and curved walls to create large flaming vortexes generated by hand and the use of a handheld flamethrower device. For Burning Man 2003, Nate and his crew created a new machine designed to form the vortex and possibly catch dust devils. Nate is interested in the idea that flame can be formed or sculpted into a variety of shapes. He continues to be intrigued by the beauty and power of fire as an art medium.
In studying the heritage of his relatives, the Vikings of Scandinavia, Charlie Smith was inspired to pay homage to Viking culture by sculpting voyaging vessels of fire. For his work, he has appropriated both Viking terminology and imagery. For example, the term "Naust," which means safe haven or harbor, plays an important role in his project. During the Viking era, Nausts were a place of rest, building, repair, and celebration of a success-filled voyage. The Nausts also served as centers for Viking trade and family life.
At Burning Man, Charlie has constructed Nausts of the Directional Vessels of Fire at locations determined by the four marks, North, South, East, and West around the central axis (the Man). By day, the Nausts serve as resting-places for the vessels. Fire-breathing flagpoles define the Nausts with flags representing the vessel and the direction. Each night, an individual vessel is chosen to make a mobile voyage along the Esplanade bringing celebration and warmth to the surrounding city before ending the voyage at its Naust. A group of participants accompanies the vessel, creating a nightly community moving around the open playa from island to island.
Kal Spelletich, the seventh of nine children, was born in an elevator and raised in Davenport Iowa, recently named "America's Worst Place to Live." Shortly after being given a chemistry set at the age of nine, he started blowing up aerosol cans in fires and experimenting with electricity and fire and fireworks. He now lives on the waterfront of San Francisco in an industrial district where he scours junkyards and dumpsters for industrial items whose technology can be reapplied. Kal teaches at SF State and lectures at other schools around the US. He is currently exhibiting in mostly (still) underground venues in the Bay Area. His latest work involves experimenting with bio-morphic inputs that trigger machines and robots to provide viewers with a direct experience.
Sculptor Buzz Voelker has been teaching metal fabrication and welding to hundreds of students at the Crucible since January 2002. He is a freelance fabricator, having done work for hire in the welding, bending, casting, and finishing of steel, aluminum, iron, and bronze. He also works with illuminated sculpture that incorporates neon, LEDs, chemical luminescence, and his favorite, fire. Buzz created the fire antlers for the Crucible's fifth anniversary presentation, Dido & Aeneas: A Fire Opera. The antlers, works of propane-powered wearable fire sculpture, have become a hallmark of the Crucible's innovative artistic integration of fire and performance.
Kasia's work is very up close and inviting. Kasia says, "Burning Man was my inspiration to begin working with metal five years ago. I have since incorporated fire into my pieces because I believe it has power to purify, regenerate, and inspire the human spirit. I enjoy making interactive art that can be entered (or walked through), and be surrounded by the flames. My goal is to make sculptures that are beautiful and prudently dangerous." Kasia has shown her work at the Northview Gallery in Portland OR., the Women Student's Art Show PPC, Portland OR., First Friday Art Walk, Hood River OR., the Life on Earth Celebration, Creswell OR., and the Living Dream Experience, Hornings Hideout in North Plains OR.
Most of Kiki Pettit's artwork deals with illumination (fire, neon, el-wire, fiber optics) and with building things (metal, glass, wood, found objects, 3D computer modeling). She finds fire, in particular, to be an interesting creative element and enjoys coupling fire with metal to create her art. She uses water to give shape to fire and make the fire flow where she wants. She knows that fire draws the viewer into meditation and her work taps into that emotion.
Scott "Sparky" Bartlett is a metal sculptor, working primarily in welded steel. His current projects incorporate flames
moving through clear tubing. His latest project, called "Thought," is an intricate spherical tangle of tubing, where
blue thought-like flames weave, twist, split and eventually die away. It has been shown at a variety of events in the
Bay Area, Sacramento, and Black Rock City. Scott has designed interactive computer music installations using both
infrared and ultrasonic sonar as input stimuli to markov processes and other computational engines to produce dynamic
sonic tapestries. He is also an accomplished B&W photographer, focusing on religious sculpture, architecture and the
complexity of massive industrial facilities.
Eccentric Design is a collective of artists and performers working together to create interactive sculpture, performance and environments incorporating fire and light. This outstanding group of artists has self-produced major events with fire sculpture, fire performance, light installations and kinetic sculpture. The Fire Garden, Eccentric's widely known performance event, was presented to over 2200 people at Herbst Pavilion in July 2003. This was the first event of its kind to present fire arts at this indoor location. Eccentric is presently developing a new full evening performance project to be presented in 2005.
Flaming Lotus Girls
Flaming Lotus Girls are a San Francisco-based outlaw gang of fire artists, tech freaks, and general mayhem makers. They have been creating works of copper, steel, and fire since the year 2000 when they made their first six-chambered kerosene shooter, attached petals to it, and painted it pink. Since then they have presented lovely and dangerous fire installations at Burning Man and other events, including Fire Island (2002), which featured scores of flaming flowers and cacti, the Agave Shooter and Mini-Mega Lotus Jr flamethrowers, and the giant kerosene Fire Fan. They also produced the infamous well-manicured Hand of God (2003), which shot flames into the sky at heights beyond 120 feet. Their latest miraculous feat was making the semi-finals at the Power Tool Drag Races with the pink glitter Bunnie Thruster, powered by two angle grinders, a flaming flower, and magic; the dramatic building and winning process will be aired on the Discovery Channel in 2005. The Flaming Lotus Girls are currently re-creating the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades star constellation to burn on Earth at Burning Man 2004.
Jeremy Lutes works with fiber optics, neon and electronics in creating interactive sculpture, illuminated costuming and large-scale, site-specific installations. His work is shaped by a deep appreciation for natural and organic forms, and an ever-present fascination with color and light. Though technology is often the enabling element of his work, his finished pieces are rarely "technological" in nature; rather they suggest more playful, magical and ethereal origins. Lutes recently completed a large-scale sculpture installation for the city of Santa Clara's new public library.
Kathleen Fernald's work crosses many disciplinary boundaries, from ceramics and fiber arts to steel and electricity.
Her work, while rooted in natural materials, often hangs suspended in mid air. Combining colors, shapes and textures
in seemingly inordinate ways, Kathleen uses her eye for harmony and the occasional odd dash of humor to balance her
elemental work. By adding electronics and lighting, her recent work further explores the connections between the
earthly familiar and the distinctly otherworldly.
Betty Ray is a rambler, a gambler, and a sweet-talking lady's man. Okay, she's not really a lady's man or a man at all, for that matter. But the rambler and gambler thing is pretty true. However, unlike many ramblers and gamblers, Betty isn't really an artist. Okay, she's a bit of a bullshit artist, but that's about the extent of the applicability of the "artist" moniker when it comes to Betty. Truth be told, she's a writer and a DJ and a chaos theorician, with an obsessive fascination with deep space. She also has an unfailing respect for people who make stuff - especially geeky smart, well-engineered, technically sophisticated stuff that represents deep space. As such, she's excited to be collaborating with Christopher Schardt on the Nebula project, and has surrendered to the reality that this art thing is totally habit-forming.
Christopher Schardt's fascination with spinning, metal things led, in the year 2000, to the construction of "Spin," a 12' high, 12' diameter machine with spinning arms of LEDs controlled by a computer so as to create a cylindrical digital display. Then, in 2001, he made "Flash," a much more modest spinning piece. In 2002, he built "Ping," a submarine art car. In 2003, he created "Yantra," a 40' tower that suspends in the air a circle of religious symbols in EL wire. This year, he is thrilled to have a partner in the Nebula project, Miss Betty Ray.
By day, Dawn Ryan is a child therapist working towards her MFT license. She has been drawing, painting and sewing since childhood, playing with computers since high school, and dancing with lights for nearly a decade. She has been doodling with lights and electronics for the last two years. Dawn is fascinated with neuroscience and its comparative relationship to electronics and computers. Her previous collaborative projects include: Spirata Luminosa -- Burning Man 2003
An immediate playa addict upon reaching the alkali plane, Rick Lellinger is intensely inspired by Burning Man art and the vibrant, helpful, and friendly gang of artists that he has come to know. Rick's interests and experience lie in electronics, computers, machine tools, and amateur radio and he is attracted to anything glowing, blinking, or fiery. He has more than a few creative ideas bouncing about his cranium at one time; currently, he is collaborating with Jeremy Lutes of Light Fantastic on fiber optic projects. His previous collaborative projects include: Spirata Luminosa -Burning Man 2003.
While getting his degree in material science from UC Berkeley, Kevin Gauna became fascinated with solar power. At the same time, he realized that his future did not lie in the traditional engineering field. Dennis Baum received his degree in Astrophysics from UC Berkeley. Since 1995, they have been working together under the name Sunbrothers, creating solar powered botanical sculptures. Kevin is the tireless perfectionist and innovator of the duo, while Dennis considers himself both its source of enthusiasm and its naysayer. Their art is a masterful blend of science and nature. Copper, hand-blown glass and electronics are fashioned, with passionate detail, into realistic analogs of the plant world. Their work to date has included sunflowers, corn stalks, pea vines, roses and some very special carrots.
Therm is a collection of artists, technicians, engineers, inventors, metal-workers, and performers dedicated to exploring fire as an artistic medium. Therm creates sculptural forms as instruments that manipulate and shape the flame. Performances are a dynamic and exciting display of color, light, heat, sound and shape. Fire dances, spins, booms, spits, whispers, and charms the audience. Therm's environments provide accent for other performance groups or create a unique atmosphere for parties and events. Therm has performed in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Diego and its works have been displayed in various venues along the west coast. Shows have ranged from explosive displays in the desert to quiet performances in art galleries. Therm is Dave Andres , Vance Cearley , Orion Fredericks , Justin Gray , Barbara Kruse , Zach Wetzel