Playa Made: The Jewelry of Burning Man - February 11, 2017 June 4, 2017

Arts and Entertainment

January 26, 2017

From: Fuller Craft Museum

Reception: Saturday, February 11, 2017 from 2:00 5:00 pm with Gallery Talk and Panel 

Fuller Craft will host an opening reception to celebrate both Playa Made: The Jewelry of Burning Man and John Bisbee: Material Obsession. At 2:00 pm, John Bisbee will give a gallery talk. At 3:00 pm, join us for a panel discussion "Makers' Paradise: Exploring Burning Man Jewelry" including Karen Christians, Christine Kristen, George Post, and Sumner Silverman. There will be a book signing with Karen Christians and George Post. The reception will feature art cars by Howard Davis and other "burners," as well as a mini-man designed by Doug Ruska. The reception is included with admission fee. Panel: $7 ($15 Nonmembers)

Adornment, memento both words seem too small to capture the powerful resonance of an experience that is intensely personal and yet shared abundantly with 70,000 strangers. However, the jewelry does capture this experience, and that is the marvel of Playa Made: The Jewelry of Burning Man, Fuller Craft Museum's newest exhibition. This is the very first jewelry exhibition to celebrate the meaningful objects and makers that not only commemorate the Burning Man festival, but also objectify its ethos (creativity, interactivity, radical self expression, collaboration, meaningful connection). The exhibition was sparked by the publication of Karen Christians and Christine Kristen's book "Jewelry of Burning Man."

The creative and communal spirit as well as the symbols of Burning Man are finely crafted into countless jeweled rings, pressed glass coins, lakebed-clay charms, inlaid wood pendants, intricate necklaces, and other pieces of jewelry all given freely during the festival without the expectation of compensation. This practice is accordance with the second of Burning Man's Ten Principles Gifting. The exhibition includes about 175 pieces and about 57 artists. The materials used in the creation of the jewelry range from the precious metals and stones used by Amber Marie Bently and Ken Kushner, to the stamped hard drive of Steve Curl and Leo Villareal's LED lights, to black basalt rock and the very earth of the playa. The exhibition will include marvelous photos by George Post that capture the spirit of Burning Man.

The Playa 

A playa is a flat, dry desert basin. For this annual, week-long art festival in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, a temporary city stretching 7 square miles is erected on a prehistoric desert basin, the largest dry lakebed in North America. A large-scale photo mural of the Playa and descriptions of the makers and objects are included in the exhibition to demonstrate the magnitude of the Burning Man.

Populism and Art 

Art-making is an integral part of Burning Man. Over the past 31 years, Black Rock City has become the world's largest outdoor art gallery, featuring hundreds of installations scattered across the playa. The no-holds-barred event attracts artists and makers from around the world, many of whom spend the bulk of their year developing work bound for Burning Man. Reflecting a theme set each year by founder Larry Harvey, the art is a vital part of the event, and it is everywhereon the open playa, in the camping areas, in the Center Café, along the trash fence that marks the boundaries of the city, in the small participant-run airport, along the entrance road, in the air, and around the Burning Man effigy itself.

Anyone can present what they've created without fear of judgment, competition, censorship, or valuation. The art is characterized by interactivity; it is accessible, hands-on, and meant to be touched, climbed, and played with, in order to provide intense, intimate experiences not usually available in gallery or museum settings.

The Ten Principles of Burning Man 

The 10 Principles of Burning Man were written by Larry Harvey in 2004 as a guide for the burgeoning worldwide network of Regional Satellite events, in order to codify the ethical structure that has made Burning Man work so well for so many years. They are: Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-reliance, Radical Self-expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation, and Immediacy.

Exhibition Team 

Christine Kristen (LadyBee), Curator of Playa Made: The Jewelry of Burning Man 
Christine Kristen (aka Ladybee) was Burning Man's art curator from 1999 to 2008, where she dealt with all things visual and aesthetic, including developing the art grant program and working with the funded artists. She has written articles for Leonardo Journal, Raw Vision, and the Burning Man Journal, and is the editor and co-author of Jewelry of Burning Man. She is currently the archivist, and also manages the art collection at the San Francisco office. She has an MFA in sculpture from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Karen Christians, Metalsmith and Jewelry Designer 

Karen Christians holds a BFA with from the Massachusetts College of Art. In 1998, she founded the nonprofit Metalwerx: School for Jewelry and the Metal Arts in Waltham, MA, and in 2012, the Jewelry Shop at Artisans Asylum in Somerville, MA. She teaches nationally, lectures around the country, and is published in many professional and technical magazines. Karen is the author of two books, Making the Most of Your Flex-Shaft and Jewelry of Burning Man. Currently she is working on her third book, Jewelry of Star Trek. Karen has a studio in Lowell, MA and lives in Waltham with her husband Dave and two excellent cats. You can find her at and reach her at

George Post, Photographer 

A freelance photographer, writer, and teacher, George Post has made photography his lifelong passion. Throughout his four decades as a freelance photographer, George has specialized in the photo-documentation of fine arts, hand-made crafts and jewelry. After a life-changing expedition to Burning Man in 1991, he has returned every year since then to photograph the people, art, fire, and the magical desert light that make Burning Man a unique world-class event.