Artists Letters

Artists Letters

Dear Burner,
“I’m done!” I had finally hit my breaking point.

My Honoraria piece, “The Apocalypse is Breathtaking” was suitably named. It was Friday morning of Burn Week, and by far the hardest Burn — or the hardest anything of my life. My trike had just been stolen, the same one I rode the other moon around in 2018.

That piece was suitably named, too. It was called “This Too Shall Pass,” a phrase I heard often during 2020 and 2021. My experience of the COVID years was incredibly heartbreaking and isolating. The one thing that got me through was the experience of bringing the moon to playa — the love I experienced in 2018 allowed me to keep the faith.

So I had to come back and yet, here I was, screaming, “I’m done!”

My trike was the tiny straw on a giant pile of ohmygodwhat — from building an impossible piece to allow shipping from India, quadrupling material costs, literal and metaphorical fires, possible bankruptcy and finally, to my father having a massive heart attack back home during Burn Week.

And yet, every last thing was infinitely easier to handle because of the way we had each other. The piece was built in collaboration with other artists (Alan Becker, Mara Greenberg, Sandeep Manyam) who had never met before. We were supported by world class ASS (Art Support Services) who helped more projects than ever this year. The rock stars from my camp, Tough Titties, pulled through and up in ways that made me believe that this is what family looks like. Every single human I engaged with from Burning Man Project went so stratospherically above and beyond, I am in awe.

The apocalypse needs Burners.

As the playa provides, I’ve found exactly what I needed: an unshakable sense that I’m infinitely capable and that I have community, the best community. I am not alone, even in the hardest of times.

I wonder what I might call my next project?

Lekha Washington
Lead Artist, “The Apocalypse is Breathtaking,” 2022 and “This Too Shall Pass – Moondancer,” 2018 (Burning since 2012)


Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.


Dear Burner,

I like to think of these projects almost like my children, and they have birthing moments.

That’s how “Portal,” my previous piece in 2019, happened. I started to make the maquette and changed my whole life from that point. When I received an Honoraria grant, I took it as a completely life-altering experience.

Finding a place to build this big art has been a real challenge. As I worked on “Petaled Portal,” my 2022 piece, I was all over. I moved to some land in Arizona, and that was a pretty bumpy ride.

It’s off grid… and I had no experience with that type of living.

I was camping outside with a couple friends. I spent probably a couple weeks of a harsh winter living in a toolshed. There were some nights when I had just 45 minutes of sleep and the water was frozen solid next to me.

So that’s how “Petaled Portal” started.

I had art faith, I like to call it. For the most part, I built the whole piece on my own — friends and a neighbor helped out with tiling and the metal cutout.

Out in the middle of nowhere, neighbors who had no experience with Burning Man helped me load “Petaled Portal” on one of their semi trucks and get it to Black Rock City. I had no money for their labor; they helped out for free.

Art is an inside job as much as it is an outside construct. Artists are just humans walking our paths like everyone else. We all have our walkways that are constantly shaping us inside. That’s just the way it is.

David Oliver
Lead Artist, “Portal,” 2019 and “Petaled Portal,” 2022 (Burning since 2019