Marco Cochrane‘s amazing sculptures are built by hand, a combination of clay molding and spot welding. Bliss Dance is so strong that you could walk on her torso, and yet all the weight is concentrated on a single foot. Last year, Truth is Beauty debuted in all her glory, and was surely one of the most memorable art pieces of the year. If you went to Burning Man and took photos, but didn’t get one of this, I’d be amazed. The first time I went to check it out they gave me a bracelet to show supports for the sisters on the Playa – which was pretty special to me personally because my sister was flying in later that day for her first Burn.
Now Marco is creating the third installment in his Bliss Project series, R-Evolution. Support the project here. He has used the same model throughout the series, 6-foot tall Deja Solis. “Truth is beauty represents the moment of her accepting her truth: that she’s tall”, says Marco.
The Monterey County Weekly shares the back story to the series:
He found his model in the now-shuttered Blockbuster Video next to the Pacific Grove Trader Joe’s. And he let her, Monterey native Jamie Deja Solis, pick the poses for his pieces.
For “Truth Is Beauty,” she chose a stretching moment she remembered in front of the mirror, finally embracing the atypical height that had always made her self-conscious. “He asked me, ‘When did you truly feel beautiful?’” Solis says. “I was learning to self-love.”
At the base of the statue in Black Rock Desert, a single question written in hundreds of languages asked onlookers to consider a world where that kind of comfort, freedom and security were realized: “What would the world be like if all women were safe?” Safe to be themselves, to be open and affirming, to be beautiful.
“Women always tell me, ‘I’m safe,’” says Cochrane, now based in Mill Valley. “But can you walk down street and look a man in eye and smile?’ ‘No way,’ they say.”
They held talks and distributed 10,000 wristbands with a picture of the sculpture and the words, “We stand with you,” starting right there at Burning Man. There are no available stats on sexual assault on the playa, but anecdotes are all too easy to come by. And the reporting is complicated by the lack of rape kits to collect forensic evidence in Black Rock City.
“It was weirdly magical to meet so many folks,” Solis says. “Sometimes it was making a woman know she can be beautiful, that she didn’t need to force it. Other times it was telling her partner to stay present when she’s feeling open. Men often don’t allow the vulnerability to be open and truly share. They should be able to feel that and express it.”
Now an international tour is in the offing, with which Cochrane will continue asking people to look at body language more than body parts. “If you’re a man and you’re straight, you’ve been stunned by a woman before,” Cochrane says. “But there is a real person living in that body. Deja is a regular person. The statute is intended to be stunningly beautiful, to knock your socks off, but remind you there’s a real person there, and she’s safe.”
Maybe most stunning of all: That we need to be reminded one in three women has been sexually assaulted. But “Truth Is Beauty” also reminds us, even ugly truths can be stunningly beautiful.
There’s certainly a noble message behind Marco’s art, which is something you won’t find everywhere at the world’s biggest mutant art festival. For example, I’m thinking, the Arctic Boob Cooler I remember from 2004 was maybe towards the other end of the spectrum of nobility – yet also very popular and memorable.
For R-Evolution, Marco has created a 15-foot high clay sculpture of the piece from her lithe form.
If you like the art, support the project. Here’s some details from Marco:
How was Cargo Cult for you?
Wow what a year we had! With all of your help, we were able to raise enough money to complete Truth is Beauty and bring her to Burning Man in 2013. We are so gratified by the response she received on the Playa – even we were amazed at how she looked from different angles, at different times a day, and OH! the light shows – 6 different shows thanks to Ka-Ping Yee, our uber-talented lighting engineer!!
We felt awe witnessing the impact on people as they read the inscription around her base: “What Would the World be Like if Women Were Safe?” There was Playa magic when Truth is Beauty replaced the “I” in BELIEVE after it fell down in the pre-event windstorms and when she held a rainbow or the sun. There were the hundreds of people who stopped us to tell us their own personal stories of how they were affected when they saw her, and thousands who wrote their feelings and opinions down in the books we provided. We handed out nearly 10,000 “Together We Stand” wristbands, calling on those who wore them to take active responsibility for the safety of their sisters; each a unique opportunity for a personal connection and conversation. It was such a success, we are working on how to bring this campaign to the wider world!
Thank you…Thank you…Thank You…for opening your hearts and minds to the messenger and the meaning!!
I have started work on R-Evolution, the third sculpture in the Bliss Project series. I recently finished the 15 foot clay sculpture – the first stage in the process – and plan to start the mold to cast the pieces from which the steel structure will be built in the next week or so.
Our plan is to debut her at Burning Man 2015. Why not this year? These sculptures take thousands of hours to build and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It simply cannot be done in one year. So, we embark on another two-year build, but we really need your help because we not only need time, we need funds as well! Through a combination of this campaign, grants and generous individual donors and foundations we hope to be able to raise all of the money we need this year to get R-Evolution where she needs to be so that we can complete her in time for her planned debut.
To meet our goal, we will need to have her torso and calves complete by August. To do this, we need to be able to purchase the steel, and all of the ancillary welding materials as well as the rust-treatment on these pieces. Of course we will also have to cover operating costs such as rent, utilities, insurance, certified welders, engineering and labor for those who will be working full-time.
What is R-Evolution?
Another collaboration with Deja Solis , R-Evolution is different than Bliss Dance and Truth is Beauty. There is no overt action in her expression; she is not dancing in the face of danger, she is not reaching to meet herself and find her own truth. In R-Evolution, Deja explores and expresses what she feels like when she can just be…a whole person… a woman, radiating her energy into the world. Of course, this won’t solve everything, but we think a world where women are free to just be is an essential first step. It’s R-Evolution it’s…
What the world will be like when women are safe.
What was your inspiration for the Bliss Project Series?
The story of R-Evolution and The Bliss Project began when I was 7-years old and my best friend was a 9-year old little girl. One day I was told, in way too much detail for a little boy, that she had been raped right outside of my house. It was incomprehensible, horrible, I never forgot, I never understood…it still haunts me. I thought…that man couldn’t have realized my friend was a person…if he really could see her, this wouldn’t have happened.
I grew up in the Bay Area in the 60’s and 70’s, in the philosophical revolution and turbulence of those times. I learned to deeply appreciate feminine energy, influence and strength…and realized that the objectification of women imprisoned women and also men. I also saw first-hand that one person, or a small group of people, can start a movement that can make a difference and change the course of history.
In my 20s I discovered sculpting, and in particular, the joy of seeing and then sculpting women; of the healing energy and power that I saw when women were not afraid…when they could be present, when they could be themselves, speak their minds…and the heroism it takes to do this in the face of real danger in their daily lives. For more than 25 years I have been sculpting women. At first glance, they appear to be classical figurative nudes, but they are not. They are radically modern…revolutionary. These women are safe, present. Look at them. They have chosen their own expression, so you will see the actual woman, the person, her energy and spirit. It is my intent that these sculptures exude this healing energy and inspire us to take action; to finally say enough is enough.
What can Burners do to help?
Art can illuminate the human condition and be a catalyst to social change …My hope is to expand human consciousness and inspire men and women to take action to end violence against women, beginning a healing process that will make room for women’s voices, thus allowing all of us to live fully and thrive! I am asking you to stand with us!
Thank you to everyone for the incredible support you have provided in the past, and to everyone who is considering supporting R-Evolution. There is just no way projects like this could happen without you!
Donate now and spread the word. We have some great perks, including pendants, mini-sculptures – 6 inch versions – experiences., etc. Plus, everyone get’s a Together We Stand Wristband. Check it out!
Visit Bliss Dance now on Treasure Island, San Francisco – even little babies who can’t speak yet love it.