One of the reasons why I love going to Burning Man every year is to see the magnificent art that’s on display. I’m always astonished at the creativity, scale and workmanship of the hundreds of pieces that dot the Black Rock Desert. And every year I have my favorites.
Last year, one of them was the huge steel letters that spelled out the word BELIEVE. It wasn’t the first piece by Jeff Schomberg and fellow artist Laura Kimpton that had resonated with me. In 2009, they brought their first of five words, so far, to the playa. It was MOM. This was the first burn after my mother’s death and bicycling by that word, with its cutout birds, every day became part of my grieving process. And last year, after losing a job I had been in for 10 years, once again I was grieving. I know the word was created to fit perfectly with the Cargo Cult theme, but it also spoke perfectly to me. At a time when it was easy to be filled with pity and doubt, that sculpture told me to BELIEVE in myself and my capabilities. Those birds that set my mother free now were setting me free to move on to the next adventure.
Does Reno BELIEVE?
Needless to say, I was thrilled when I saw the BELIEVE sculpture installed last month at City Plaza. I learned from Christine Fey, Reno’s resource development and cultural affairs manager, that Kate Thomas, the city’s budget director, had made it her mission to bring it to Reno, after seeing it last year on the playa. I don’t know what it was, but I think Ms. Thomas had her own visceral reaction to the sculpture.
People congregate around it, are photographing it, and talking about it.
“It has made a huge hit,” Fey said. “It’s very approachable.”
The sculpture will be dismantled Thursday, but the City of Reno has started a fundraising effort, asking for the community’s help to keep BELIEVE in Reno. The piece cost $70,000, $10,000 a letter.
Fey thinks it’s doable and would only take a few private donors who would be willing to purchase a letter, or two.
For anyone who’s thinking about making a donation, know that Jeff is a Reno resident with a studio off Dickerson Road. Yes, Laura lives in California, but part of the dynamic design and manufacturing team lives here and builds here.
Let’s allow this word to inspire others to have an R. Kelly moment and say, “I believe I can fly.”