My sculpture project, Naima, is a jeweled chamber of purple light and glass hidden inside a rusted 5th-wheel trailer in the desert.
Naima was selected by curators Dave Hickey, Andrea Zittel, Libby Lumpkin and Aurora Tang for this fall's High Desert Test Sites Exhibition, where projects will be sited in the desert along the I-40 from Los Angeles, CA. to Albuquerque, NM. All artists invited to participate fund their projects themselves. High Desert Test Sites is a labor of love for everyone involved: organizers, curators, and artists. This Kickstarter campaign will help build my project for the exhibition in October.
What is Naima?
My sculpture project, Naima, is a jeweled chamber of purple light and glass hidden inside a rusted trailer. Naima will be human-scaled. Large enough for one person at a time to sit inside. Sitting inside Naima will be like sitting inside a giant glowing geode, or discovering an amethyst light-filled crystal cave.
Imagine a trailer set out in the desert with nothing around for miles. You approach the site down a long dirt road—outside the car window you see nothing but space and sky. You get out of your car and approach the trailer. Its' paint bleached by the sun, Naima suggests an abandoned homestead. Inside is another world. Naima's interior is a white chamber lined with amethyst-colored glass objects that radiate light. Purple glass and purple light entirely surround you, as if you had walked into a giant geode, or discovered an amethyst light-filled crystal cave. Sitting inside Naima, you gradually recognize the purple glass objects that make up the glowing crystal walls around you: Bic lighters, bullet casings, trailer hitches, hood ornaments, and CB radios—detritus that I collected while walking, driving, and picking through junkyards over the last decade in the New Mexico desert. Projecting from the walls and ceiling, they have become translucent crystals. At night, purple light emanates from Naima's slightly open door, illuminating the desert floor.
Naima invites viewers to take a road trip—a journey that leads to a rusted trailer—and within it, to the amethyst light of a supernatural crystal cave.
What will pledge gifts look like?
One of A Kind Glass CB Radio Sculpture
Limited Edition Prints and Postcards
I've Already Begun...
I've already begun to cast the hundreds of purple glass objects for Naima. I cast the glass myself in my shop in New Mexico. I use an ancient and labor-intensive process called lost wax casting. Each mold is destroyed in the firing process, so each piece an original, not a multiple. Why use this labor-intensive process of making glass? I use glass to access light in my work. It gives me the particular quality of light I'm looking for in Naima. Although I am casting CB radios and car parts, once they are cast in purple glass, abstracted and modified, they will effectively become a mass of light and color inside the Naima trailer.
I found and purchased the perfect beat-up travel trailer. The inside is completely gutted. Custom modifications to the trailer are underway. Cutting hatches in the roof to let in natural light. Cutting invisible custom hatches on the sides of the trailer for access. Putting an entirely new floor inside the trailer. Building an internal weight bearing aluminum and steel structural framework. After modifications to the trailer are complete, we will build a small interior plywood chamber with white walls large enough for one person at a time to sit inside.
Driving Across the Desert
I drive from New Mexico to Los Angeles a lot. Abandoned trailers and RV's are everywhere in the desert along the I-40 between Albuquerque and LA. They are part of the forgotten landscape. What if one of those trailers outside Gallup or Joshua Tree had an amethyst glass world inside? It's the kind of fantasy I had as a kid, imagining I would discover a cave, or buried treasure, or that the abandoned house down the road would be a portal to another world if I could get up the courage to go inside. My sculpture project, Naima, is the fantasy of discovering treasure where we least expect it—like C.S. Lewis’ alternate world found by climbing through the wardrobe, the thrill of Naima for me is the instant when viewers open the trailer's door and discover the chamber of purple light inside.
Light, Color, The Computer that is our Body
A lot of my interaction these days is mediated by technology, by my computer or iPhone. I crave experiences that are connected to the physical world, that's why I like to make things with my hands. I wonder if other people might crave these experiences, too. I hope viewers will spend some time inside the trailer, and be immersed in a sensory, corporeal experience of light and color. I think this living, felt experience is an anecdote to cynicism because experiencing it confirms and celebrates our lives in the moment; reminding us we are here, now, inside a body. Reminding us we are more than the news and statistics. I am particularly interested in how light and color communicate outside the language of words.
In a world saturated with information, much of it speeding at us disembodied through cyberspace, Naima invites viewers to take a road trip to the desert. Naima is about being there, in real time.
All artists chosen to participate in High Desert Test Sites fund their projects themselves. High Desert Test Sites is a labor of love for everyone involved: organizers, curators, and artists. When I learned Naima had been accepted for this year's exhibition, I was thrilled. I had just over 5 months to build the project. I threw myself in. I decided I would do it no matter what. I took a leap of faith.
Your support through Kickstarter will help fuel this leap of faith. Kickstarter is a democratic platform where you can vote for more of what you want in the world by supporting projects. One of the best ways you can help is to spread the word to your friends who you think might be interested. Forwarding, posting on your blog, or talking about the project too loudly in the elevator will all be greatly appreciated!
Blood Sweat and Tears Department: Gregg Hawks, Penny Hawks, Johnny Long, Chris Painter, John Reece, Richard Tobin, Janusz Walentynowicz, Wendy Shuey.
In 2002 my desire to harness light in particular led me to begin casting glass in my studio. I had begun collecting things I found on walks in the desert—hood ornaments, rearview mirrors, Bic lighters. I wanted to fuse these objects with incarnate light—to somehow remake them. Wiring a computer to an old kiln, I began to teach myself to cast glass. I had found a medium that could fuse objects with light. Color was naturally part of this light. I started to experiment with other light interactive materials—wax, crystal, plastic. I continued to make my work larger, hoping to eventually create immersive environments that could be experienced with the body. Naima will be my largest work to date.
Debbie Long has recently exhibited her work at Mark Moore Gallery in Los Angeles, CA; Gallery 128 Lower East Side in New York City, NY; Cinemaland Chinatown in Los Angeles, CA; Boston University's Sherman Gallery in Boston, MA; and The Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, NM. Long received grants to attend Pilchuck Glass School in 2004, a Creative Capital Foundation workshop in 2006, and was recently invited to speak about her work as part of SITE Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Arts' Dialogue 360 lecture series. Long completed apprenticeships/assistantships at both Adobe Bronze Foundry in New Mexico and at Walentinowicz Glass Studio in Illinois. Long worked as studio assistant to Ken Price in Taos, New Mexico from 2006-2012. Before establishing her current studio in Taos, NM, Long split her time between Taos and Los Angeles.
Behind the Scenes
The budget amount raised on Kickstarter will be used for
- Materials to Build Naima
- Materials include Naima trailer itself and trailer mechanical parts. Hundreds of pounds of special casting plaster, hundreds of pounds of special casting glass. Kiln supplies, wax, rubber mold making materials, lumber, aluminum, steel, paint, drill bits and saw blades, special diamond drill bits for drilling holes in glass, hardware, lighting, wiring, and air conditioning and ventilation system, chair and track.
- Transport of Naima to and from the High Desert Test Sites Exhibition
- Creation and shipping of thank you gifts to donors.
- Kickstarter and Amazon fees which are between 8-10% of the total raised.
- Taxes-self employed rates apply.
- Buffer Amount-Set aside for dropped pledges, refund amounts, and any miscalculation.
Funding raised over the budget amount will be used for
- Future exhibiting of the piece. With extra funding Naima could travel to other sites or exhibitions. Naima could be shown anywhere from inside a gallery or museum, to a Los Angeles Beach, to a Wal Mart parking lot.
- Hiring a professional videographer for professional video documentation of Naima installed at High Desert Test Sties.
More about the kickstarter process
Kickstarter is a democratic platform where you can vote for more of what you want in the world by supporting projects. By pledging, you are joining in the adventure of creating and completing a project. You also get heartfelt and cool thank you gifts.
How to get started:
- Step 1. Decide which Pledge description you like, taking note of any international shipping estimates.
- Step 2. Create a Kickstarter account, determine payment method.
- Step 3. Wait and see what happens! If the campaign is successful, in 30 days your account will be charged and your thank you gift is secured. If the campaign is unsuccessful, then you will NOT be charged.
- Step 4. If you would like to join in helping this project succeed, then feel free to spread the word! Forwarding, posting on your blog, screaming from your car window in traffic jams, talking too loudly in the elevator will all be greatly appreciated.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
I realize that waiting several months to receive pledge thank you gifts requires a good amount of patience. Because I am in the middle of building the Naima Trailer for the High Desert Test Sites Exhibition in October, I'm on a tight deadline! Building the project is my first priority! So I will begin to make donor thank you gifts after the Exhibition. I hope to ship all gifts in time for Christmas, however, shipping time may vary slightly depending on the number of pledges that come in. Thank you for your patience and support.
The first phase of Naima that will be shown at the High Desert Test Sites Exhibition in October will work using natural light almost exclusively. Depending on funding and time, solar improvements to the project which would allow it to be off the grid for night viewing may come at a later date.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.