Featuring Jen Lewin‘s kinesthetically-engaging work, including 2012 BRAF Grantee Project The Pool, this BBC video explores technology’s relationship to art, and the timeliness of Lewin’s interactive installations in today’s social media-driven world. These motion-activated light and sound sculptures invite viewers to participate in collective experiences of new media that integrate elements of digitally networked spaces into physical environments.



Black Rock Arts Foundation Newsletter – May 2013


In This Issue:

  • Aurora at Maker Faire
  • Grantee Updates
    • Festival of Street Art at Bartlett Events
    • Imagine Figment
    • The Pool by Jen Lewin
    • The Temple for Christchurch
  • Partner Organizations
    • American Steel Studios present Art + Industry
    • Don’t miss Maker Faire!
    • The Youth Education Spaceship will be there, too!


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In February 2011, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand’s second-largest city. To help the residents of Christchurch deal with the aftermath of the disaster, Hippathy Valentine designed the Temple for Christchurch. This interactive installation embodies the seismic qualities of the quake through its waveform-like architectural pattern, as well in its modular form, which enables the structure to be taken apart and reconstructed elsewhere.

Inspired by a Burning Man ritual, the Temple for Christchurch will serve as a sacred space where people can leave mementos and write on its walls before witnessing its eventual burning. Through these acts of renewal and destruction, the residents of Christchurch will be encouraged to participate in a process of grieving and transformation.

Watch this video clip by 3 News New Zealand to learn more about 2012 BRAF Grantee Project The Temple for Christchurch.



Michael Christian Bike Bridge Interview

Michael Christian Speaks!

Creativity, Collaboration, and the Fantastic New Bike Bridge now on view in Downtown Oakland

ElevationI.T., and Home. Wondrous large creations and small. Metalwork, sculpture, paintings, and drawings. Prolific and provocative, Michael Christian has been a major presence on and off the Playa with his playfully interactive sculptures. He prefers to let his art speak for itself. However, on the eve of the “official” opening of Bike Bridge, Christian graciously shared some thoughts with BRAF about working jointly with twelve young students and the creative process.

Interview by Peter Bejger.

How did you get involved? And why did you get involved?

I always enjoy the tremendous freedom implicit in the repurposing and reinvention of what others discard or often refer to as scrap. Working with young adults seemed a logical companion to this as they still have fresh minds when it comes to building and have yet to form unmovable ideas of what an object ‘is or is not supposed to be’.

Describe the development of the idea. Was the original form worked out in your sketches? Or was this a collective idea?

The original idea was to pull apart the bikes into their many separate parts and see what unfolds when we start to manipulate them and put them back together again.  I had a very rough idea from a loose scribble I presented to them but it was a collective idea, open to everyone’s input or creative idea. The structure of tires was the only piece I thought of using prior to meeting with the girls. The rest came out of a collective input and experimentation of ideas.

How were your young collaborators chosen? Were you involved in the process? Or were they in place when you came onboard?

They were pulled together prior to my coming together although I don’t believe they knew each other collectively.

Your work has a very powerful, singular focus. Let’s talk about collaboration, group effort, and artistic vision. How do you approach this?

No large-scale structure of any kind can in all honesty ever be directly associated with one person.  I may have the idea and vision but it takes many hands and shared thoughts to work through the challenges of building anything beyond simple human scale. I mean seriously, people should give more props to those who developed tools like the modern day crane that make these creations possible to execute in the first place. Needless to say it’s always a collective process. It’s an amazing experience to become part of a collective moving towards a common goal. I always invite in ideas from those I’m working with because inevitably someone will see a better pathway to executing some required tasks. In the end it’s really a lot about problem solving. The experience is not nearly as satisfying if I’m not expanding my own knowledge of the process of building along the way. Working with others is the best way I’ve found so far to accomplish this.

How about the role of “teacher.” You’ve instructed and guided adults, now younger students. Any insights on similarities or differences?

Well, young people aren’t afraid to honestly express how they feel about how they feel about everything including if they feel your ideas are silly. They are often spot on unfortunately. Adults are just grown up children with better manners. They are often trying to learn and unlearn at the same time. Students haven’t started unlearning yet.

What about context? The desert is such a specific and challenging and flattering environment for an artist’s work. This piece was always meant for an urban environment. Does context ever make a difference for you?

Context is always very important but I think your subject matter and how it relates to humans in generally is probably most key.  Most everyone on the planet can relate to bicycles so you could put that anywhere on the planet and people would connect with it on some level.  I think in general, the further you get from the simple daily experience of being human the more context plays into how people appreciate and connect with art.

We can imagine what your collaborators may have gained by working with you. What have you gained from the experience?

The pieces I seem to identify with as my favorites are the ones I had the most fun building while simultaneously learning and growing in the process. I think the bike arch would qualify as a good one.

Finally, a word about what’s next. Drifts will be installed on the Black Rock Desert at Burning Man later this year. A preview?

I tend to rely heavily on process so not really much to preview. I can say I am excited about building these particular sculptures this year because they appeal to sensibilities of my creative process I don’t visit as often as I’d like. There is much more free form work involved and not as heavy on engineering.


Black Rock Arts Foundation Newsletter – April 2013

In this Issue:

  • Bike BridgeOpening Celebrations April 5th!
  • Help bring Aurora to Palo Alto!
  • Partner Organization News:
    • Join Burning Man Project and Earth Guardians for Earth Day San Francisco
  • Grantee Updates
    • Bartlett Events – Get involved!
    • Project SUITCASE
    • The Temple for Christchurch
    • Global Lives Project
    • Reverend Billy & The Church of Stop Shopping Choir
    • Aeolian RIde

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In this Issue:

  • The Raygun Gothic Rocketship takes off!
  • Bike Bridge - Opening Celebrations April 5th!
  • Partner Organization News:
    • Maker Faire 2013 – Call for entries
    • Third Friday Night Lights event
  • Grantee Updates
    • The Temple for Christchurch
    • Wind Playground
    • Ludale – French CORE project
    • Burning Baskets Project
    • Swap-O-Rama-Rama

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Black Rock Arts Foundation Newsletter – February 2013

In this issue:

  • Bike Bridge Opening Reception
  • Raygun Gothic Rocketship “Launch” Party
  • Partner Organization News:
    • The Bay Lights light up!
    • Maker Faire 2013 – Call for entries
    • The Exploratorium – Call for volunteers
  • Grantee Updates:
    • The Pool - Update
    • Wind Playground - Update and call for participation
    • Rebar – Call for participation
    • Global Lives Project - Update and call for entries
    • Mediate – Call for participation

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Black Rock Arts Foundation Newsletter – January 2013

In this Issue:


  • Bike Bridge Opening Reception – Postponed – March 1
  • Urbanauts - January 19
  • Grantee Updates
    • Black Forest Fancies – Request for Proposals
    • The Pool
    • Before I Die…
    • The Global Lives Project
    • FIGMENT - Request for Proposals

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Year in Review – 2012

BRAF celebrates YOU!

We at BRAF are celebrating all of the new ventures, inspiring projects and sensational events we produced and supported in 2012. Our goal is to bring free, accessible art experiences into everyday lives, so we hope you were able to experience these projects and events for yourself!

Maybe you see one of our Civic Arts projects, like Future’s Past or Portal of Evolution, on your way to work everyday. Or maybe your kids were involved with one of our grantee projects, like OmegaMart, Firefly Grove or FLOAT Beijing. And we hope you made it to our spectacular annual fundraising extravaganza, the Artumnal Gathering!

However you were able to participate in BRAF projects this year, we thank you for your ongoing involvement and support. Sharing the kind of art we love is what we do, and, with your support, we’ll be doing it for many years to come.

Read on for an overview of our accomplishments in 2012, and join us in supporting even more art together in 2013. Fan our flames for another year by making a tax-deductible year-end contribution, today!

Donate Now

Thanks to you, BRAF will keep growing, expanding and sharing more art with more communities, worldwide.

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