Art and Play(a):
The Allure of Spontaneous
Play at Burning Man
Photos and Captions by Nancy Good
As a photographer, artist and essayist, I am keenly aware of the inherent desire for connection between artists and observers. Often this connection is merely passive, but in the context of Burning Man, the cultural/societal connection is most often very active. There are multiple reasons for this active connection on the Playa: the physical effort it takes one to find the art installations, the monumental size of the art that demands interaction, the kinetic nature of many of the art pieces, and the playful, spirited nature with which Burners approach each artistic discovery. Gallery or museum exhibits do not usually encourage touch, climbing or otherwise actively engaging the art, but Burning Man most certainly does. This "play" allows those who would be observers in any other setting to become participants in the art, in the culture of not only Burning Man, but of the artists as well.
Further, educators, counselors and art/play therapists have long understood the importance of play not only for child development, but also for adult health and well-being. Specifically, play therapy helps individuals become more responsible for self, develop creative solutions and strategies to problems within a nonjudgmental environment, foster respect for self and others, nurture empathy for other individual's life experiences, cultivate new relational skills with friends, family and community, which fosters a sense of well-being, self-assuredness, and confidence in the default world. To the point: We Need to Play!
As my eye and spirit seeks out this play, my camera captures the abandon, the freedom, the delight and childlike nature of these connections. My intent is that this story of play will encourage our communities (in the default or outside world) to find more opportunities to engage in this type of artistic play as a means to build happier and more connected communities, as opposed to isolated and lonely ones.
Eric Vozzola “Warm Oasis” (2017) 64 x 39
ERIC VOZZOLA: The graphic artist turned muralist and public artist has gracefully stepped back into his third solo show to give us digital glitch. Eric Vozzola did not exorcise the demons of a day job in his new work that stretches his visual codes, nor would you want him to. His current solo show, his third, is titled “Low Res,” named after the red flag for images that are expected to be clear and reproducible in print media but are nothing more than fragmented floating squares. Our digital landscape have many moments of pixel interruptus, as I experienced when my TV baffled the cable company provider for a few months. But I digress. I experienced that same anomaly all over again with Vozzola’s work.
In “Warm Oasis” we see a symbol of escape in the landscape -a palm tree-in the background. It is also in the foreground with one small pixel blemish. In the middle is a field of pixels, including a fragment of frond floating in space. It reminds you that in Las Vegas a palm tree is also a symbol of commerce, whether by a pool or a road that leads you to a pool. Here, as in the other works in the show, the object is invaded by squares in a rhythmic use of color via analog form of paint and brush, pushed forward like an art director gone mad with a Pantone color guide. Even commitment to paint is on the edges of the canvas. Vozzola’s mastery use of color are in all the works and sets a tone that the squares are the focus. not the visual infiltration. I use “Warm Oasis” as an example because it is the tree interrupting the composition of pixels.
The gallery at Whitney Library doubles as the lobby for a small concert hall. It is also the main way to the restrooms, giving “Low Res” active foot traffic. A few times someone stopped to look at the work. That supports the argument that these paintings are incomplete until one or two are recreated on an empty wall somewhere in the city.
Whitney Library Gallery
Through January 16
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.