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The Art of Burning Man

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The good news: you don't have to travel to the playa at Burning Man to finally see what everyone goes on and on about. See some of it for yourself when The High Desert Museum hosts past Burning Man Art curator Christine "LadyBee" Kristen, who will show a "visual history" of over 125 pieces of work from the festival.

Kristen began as curator at Burning Man after curating an exhibition of Burning Man art in San Francisco, an event that proved to Kristen and Burning Man founder, Larry Harvey, that the festival had grown to a place where a full-time permanent curator would help the festival grow. Kristen went on to spend 10 years working with artists, reading proposals, helping with logistics and connecting artists. The process proved fruitful, and ever since, the art at Burning Man has grown in epic ways.

In the beginning, there were few proposals, Kristen says. As Burning Man grew, so did people's ambitions. Now, Burning Man is often a forefront of art with technological advancements. Kirsten says artists often wait to bring ideas to premiere at Burning Man, where the freedom to create and the support of creators helps to solidify these experiments. Artists now come from all over the world, often shipping their large scale-pieces on ocean liners to get them to the remote desert celebration.

While packing and shipping art for a 10-day exhibition seems like a lot of work, Kristen reports that many of the pieces are invited to travel after Burning Man, often going to other festivals and exhibitions. And while the art world may still say the art at Burning Man lacks value, she adds, "There is world class art out there by anyone's standards."

If you've ever wondered why people come back in awe of what they see at Burning Man, try to see the talk at the museum. You may not get the opportunity to see the pieces placed directly into the magnificent landscape of the Nevada desert—but you will see a huge collection of artists working outside the traditional art world and pushing boundaries in new and exciting ways.

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