Building Community Through Art
The Black Rock Arts Foundation and Burning Man launched the Big Art for Small Towns initiative in 2012 by collaborating with the city of Fernley, NV on a pilot project, which was awarded a $75,000 grant from the NEA matching other funds raised by BRAF and Burning Man.
In phase one of the ambitious two-year project in Fernley, two works were installed in a new city-owned park: the Bottle Cap Gazebo by Max Poynton and Andrew Grinberg, and Rockspinner 6 by Zachary Coffin. In the second phase, the partners selected local artist Pan Pantoja to lead a collaborative project with Fernley residents to create an original public artwork reflecting Fernley’s character, heritage, and culture. The result, unveiled in 2014, was Desert Tortoise, a 25-foot long and 17-foot tall sculpture crafted from locally-quarried boulders and thousands of painted ceramic tiles. Pantoja worked with students from every school in Fernley to create the tiles, and community members were involved in all stages of the creative process.
Burning Man Arts is deeply grateful for the City of Fernley’s enthusiastic participation and generous contributions to this project. Because of the City’s resources, expertise and community contacts, this Big Art for Small Towns project became a reality.
Burning Man Arts is currently evaluating the outcomes of the Fernley pilot project and the potential for future Big Arts for Small Towns projects.