By Patricia Belyea
SEATTLE WA “It's a giftng economy,” explained Cameron Anne Mason about Burning Man. An annual arts festival, set up in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, Burning Man is dedicated to anti-consumerism and self-expression. (The event culminates in the burning of a large wooden sculpture of a man, hence the name.)
Burners, as participants are called, offer gifts large and small, tangible and intangible. Cameron collaborated with nine others to gift a dynamic art installation to the temporary community. The main elements were two concentric circles of 24 two-part banners, an inner ring of benches, and a sphere-like sculpture in the center. The dramatic setting of the white alkali flats with the vast blue sky overhead created a place for the work, titled Sky Bound. The winds and blowing dust added another dimension to it all.
Cameron, as the visionary and project manager, recruited nine friends to be part of this self-funded, inspired adventure. An artist who shows in one of the top galleries in Seattle, Cameron spent over two months designing and developing her contribution—a suite of itajime (Japanese clamp resist) hand-dyed nine-foot banners.
The meaning of Sky Bound, made with bound-resist textiles, expresses how we are bound to the earth yet bound for the heavens. With the death of Burning Man cofounder Larry Harvey this past April, the essence of the installation became even more poignant for the makers.
Cameron chose blue as the only color for dyeing the silk banners to align with the sky-bound concept. She started with five Procion blues dyes but dropped to four as the fifth was too similar to one of the other dyes.
Half the banners are 36" wide, the others are 44" wide. Playing with translucency, Cameron overlapped the banners in wide and narrow pairs to mix the geometric patterns. Once up on their poles in the desert, the banners bounced around in the wind creating motion and sound.
The remarkable Sky Bound artists chose to take their giving one step further. As mementos of 2018 event, team member Teri Fox produced medallion necklaces by laser-cutting two different wood veneers and stringing them together with fine black cords. The etched forms in the middle component mimic the iconic Burning Man sculpture with its outstretched arms and legs.
Cameron is no stranger to community art projects. She has contributed her creativity to Seattle’s beloved Fremont Solstice Parade for 30 years. She learned to quilt and became a leader in the art quilt movement. She collaborated on an earlier banner / sculpture project at Burning Man. Now Cameron’s textile work is represented by Foster/White Gallery.
In her artist statement, Cameron explains: “Fabric is fundamental to my process. It is an intimate part of our lives. It protects us from the elements, gives us comfort, and a means to express ourselves. It is sensual and essential. I am drawn to fabric because of its changeability and its constancy. Fabric is the skin that clothes my work.”
Not only is Cameron's work a gift, she’s a gift to the world. Not many artists choose to use their time and resources to make community art and monumental installations. Thank you, Cameron.
To visit Cameron’s website +click here
To visit the Burning Man website +click here