As I write this, 61,000 of my kindred spirits are in the desert. They’re making art, putting projects on display that have been in the works for a year or more. They’re giving each other hugs as they reunite with each for the first time in 12 months, one day, or ever. They’re making memories and they’re making history.

But making history isn’t the intention of Burning Man; you’d have to ask any of the individuals who make the trek what it’s truly about, for it’s different for every individual. I myself have yet to journey to the playa; in an earlier time of my life I may have had the guts to pack up everything I would need for a week in the desert without the convenience of a store or even tap water. But now, from a distance, I admire those who boldly choose to go to this fantastical, dreamlike city that arises from the dust. Fortunately for me, I can experience it through my friends, and through books like Jennifer Raiser’s Burning Man: Art on Fire.

Burning Man art sculpture_Flaming Lotus Girls
Looking up inside Xylophage by Flaming Lotus Girls (2013; metal, propane, wood, plaster, plastic): “The term Xylophage refers to insects that feed on fungi and decaying wood. It celebrates the life that is nourished from the decomposition of another—the endless circle of birth and destruction.” Photos courtesy of Scott London and Sidney Erthal; captions by Jennifer Raiser, author of Burning Man: Art on Fire

More than 200 images within the pages help tell the story of why Burning Man calls to so many souls. The art sculptures boggle the mind, and one wonders, how did the artists build these? It’s even more of an amazement to consider that they created these massive artworks not within a studio space that had the conveniences of a clean environment, but in the harsh weather that is the Nevada desert. Here, dust storms rage across the staging area, silencing and humbling the population that has built this temporary city.

Art sculpture by Marco Cochrane_Burning Man
Truth is Beauty (2013; steel, mesh, lighting) by Marco Cochrane. “Cochrane credits the open-minded culture of Burning Man for inspiring the sculptures. ‘I’m trying to demystify nudity. I see how free women are on the playa, how they can possess a playful energy here that they cannot do in real life.’”

In addition to the sculptures and themed camps throughout, fire arts are celebrated at Burning Man nightly, which is why I chose to share this book with you. Fire poi spinners and fire breathers help light the night with their bursts of flaming performances, or random acts, as it were. In addition, LED-lighted everything can be seen, animating people and artworks alike. It seems magical, but don’t let it fool you. Burning Man is not for the faint of heart, which is why I’m waiting for the right time to attend. When I’m ready, and when I have a ticket, I’ll let you know. Until then, I’ll be living vicariously through those who are experiencing this cultural phenomenon as we go on about our regularly scheduled lives.

Peace, love, and fire,
Cherie Dawn

The Temple of Transition at Burning Man
The Temple of Transition (2011): “The most visible symbol of inspiration and praise in Black Rock City is the Temple, which is always situated at the very top of the city, in the open playa due north of the Man. The Temple is a deeply spiritual place, one that offers a sacred space for contemplation, free from religious or denominational tenets. Its design changes every year, but its meaning remains the same: a place for the community to celebrate the gifts of life, reflect on the past, remember loved ones, and relinquish sadness to the flames that ritually engulf the Temple and close the event on Sunday night.”

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