his year, four artists from Reno and Carson City were selected as recipients of the Black Rock City Honorarium grants. Awarded to 75 proposals from artists and groups worldwide, the funds will bolster the ambitious proposals of these Nevadan artists and help to make them a reality on the playa come August.
Turburam Sandagdorj, Reno
Formally trained in ceramics, Turburam Sandagdorj is a Mongolian-American artist who brings the principals of three-dimensional sculpture to paper as a professional silhouette, or Tsagasun Baru, fine artist. For these works, Sandagdorj—or STuro as he is also known—carves intricate designs into thin black paper. The resulting pieces are remarkably neat and symmetrical, as if cut by a laser rather than by hand.
2023 will be STuro’s second year creating art for Burning Man. For last year’s project, the artist transferred his silhouette technique from paper onto metal sheets for the first time to create a functional metal lantern as part of the Wild Horses of the American West project. This year, STuro’s project is “The Spirit of the Healing Siren,” which will be another metal lantern. Both works comprise an ongoing project called “Universal Lantern,” for which he plans to create 12 metal lanterns that empower through transformation, wisdom, and compassion.
A practicing artist for 35 years, STuro has illustrated more than 40 books, and his work has been featured in exhibitions around the world, including solo exhibitions in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. As the artist draws on his Mongolian heritage while working in the tradition of Tsagasun Baru, he also follows the lead of his father through his practice. “I am a second generation artist,” said STuro. My father was an artist, a book editor and illustrator. He influenced and inspired me a lot.”
Carlyn Perona-King and Black Rock City Supper Club, Reno
Black Rock City Supper Club’s present project was inspired by flame effect performance arts. “We had a big project from 2007 to 2009 called the Shiva Vista Project,” said Carlyn Perona-King, who heads the Club. “It had flame effects with a fire artist performance area, and that’s how we realized the value of having healthy meals for our artists.”
While it looks and acts a bit different from this fire arts performance, the work of Black Rock City Supper Club retains a kind of flame effect performance art—utilizing much of the Shiva Vista project’s original materials, including the kitchen. The Club feeds Burning Man artists and their crews during install week, ensuring that they receive a healthy, freshly cooked dinner. “It’s mostly the crews that don’t have a kitchen of their own,” said Perona-King. “They can come in, eat a meal and network with other artists, have a relaxing moment, or run back to their art and keep working.”
Besides heading Black Rock City Supper Club, Perona-King is also founder of Controlled Burn, an all-inclusive fire performance group located in Northern Nevada, and a member of the Fire Conclave Council, an organization composed of select fire performance groups from around the world who perform as an appetizer of sorts to the burning of the Man himself.
“We want to support the people who are bringing art to the planet,” said Perona-King. “That’s our big deal.” Beyond supporting Burning Man’s ecosystem of artistic production, Black Rock Supper Club recognizes the potential of their mobile kitchen to assist people who are displaced by natural disasters. They hope to employ their team of culinary artists to these ends in the future.
Debbie Lambin, Carson City
Carson City artist Debbie Lambin was a systems analyst for the Federal Reserve before she left a career in computers to sink her tools into much older information systems as a book sculptor. Along with two of her three children, Lambin creates lively three-dimensional scenes from the pages of used books under the moniker My Thousand Words.
“I’ve always been somewhat of a recycle artist and book artist,” says Lambin, who is originally from the Chicago area and now lives in Carson City with her husband David and a grumble of four pugs. Lambin has received a 2023 Honorarium grant for a project also titled “My Thousand Words.” Part installation and part interactive artwork, the larger “Stonehenge inspired” structure, designed by David, will connect a central sculpture to an outer, circular frame with cables displaying thousands of book sculptures. The structure will exhibit sculptures by Debbie, and, as the festival goes on, will also put book ornaments created by visiting Burners on show.
“We thought it would be fun to have something interactive and teach people to make folded, geometric book sculptures on the playa,” said Lambin. “They can either take them with them, or they can add them to our sculpture. Hopefully they’ll take what I teach them and teach others in a ripple effect, preserving [used books] that might normally be tossed.”
Off the playa, pieces by My Thousand Words are featured in galleries and locations all around Nevada and California, including at the Nevada Artist’s Association and the Mexican Consulate in Las Vegas. Lambin also just completed a commission for the 100th anniversary of Clark County Law Library, which will be on permanent display there. Photos of the Lambins’ work and more information on where to find their book sculptures are available on their website.
Lynda Traves + Reno Core Project, Reno
Lynda Traves and Reno Core Project’s honorarium-winning proposal is hard to spell but fun to say. This year, the group plans to construct “Recyclosaurus Renocores,” or R2, if you find it no easier to say the project title. R2 will take the shape of a stegosaurus whose plates and spikes consist of flame-effects running the length of its back. Its base will be constructed out of recycled metal sourced from Reno Core members’ own surplus, and will feature a kind of artificial intelligence that will interact with approaching Burners by changing flame colors to match what they are wearing.
Reno Core Project completed their first C.O.R.E., or circle of regional effigies, project in 2012. Traves, who has led the group since that first year, said that Reno Core Project is “a group of like-minded people that have been going to Burning Man for many, many, many years, but we’re always looking for people to come join our group. Within Reno, we’re always looking for new people to help to build. For [Recyclosaurus Renocores] there’s going to be a lot of welding.”
In addition to being a founder of Reno Core, Traves is also a member of the board for Reno Burners LLC, the organization that puts on Reno Decompression, a fall Burning Man party thrown within city limits. “We provide art grants to artists in the Reno area,” she said. “It’s a circle that comes around because this is how important art is. So we know [Reno Core] supports not just doing our own art projects, but we also support other artists as well.”
You can see more of Reno Core Project’s work on their Facebook page, and a website for the Recyclosaurus Renocores itself is currently in the works.
Cover photo courtesy Carlyn Perona-King