THE COSMIC SERPENT
Solar & Wind Powered
The Big Draw Chalk Drawing Festival
Pleasanton California USA
~Mark Wagner: Lead Artist
The BIG DRAW was an Arts Festival in Northern California. It was another beautiful festival that involved a city street being closed down for some chalk drawing to raise some money for the local arts. I was one of the featured paid artists and looking forward for laying down some lines and colors on the street.
I often come up with my design a few days before the event which is how I prefer to work, the work is fresh. I’d been recently inspired by the Cosmic Serpent Project that is a National Science Foundation (NFS) funded project between The Indigenous Education Institute (IEI) and the U.C. Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (UCB).
It’s a collaboration that bridges Native and Western learning, between western science and Native wisdom. I was recently chalk drawing at the Space Science Lab (see blog post below) and thought I would continue and create my own Cosmic Serpent. Pleasanton CA is filled with high tech and science geeks, so I though I would bring in alternative (alter – native) energy to the artwork – solar and wind power.
I’ve had a metal pin for years and thought it would be good reference with it’s form and shadow. I opened the image in Photoshop and worked the magic adding solar panel and wind power after looking for reference on the web.
And then it’s show time. I arrived Friday afternoon and slowly applied a grid using a chalk line and square by square roughly sketched out the piece that I had printed. The festival put me up for the night in a local hotel and Sat. morning I was back on site. My teen artist crew arrived, 4 girls, two of them mine – and they were going to be on the clock as paid artists.
We worked all day. Well.. actually it got really hot and the girls wilted like flowers and by mid day they were pretty much spent and I put them in the shade. They were great help and fun to be around. One of the girls only showed up the day before with her dad. He mentioned that she was too late to sign up to draw with everyone else in the festival. I said “you can work with us!” And she did and it was really good for her, I could tell. I paid the teen artists, they all agreed that they didn’t work as much as they has signed up for so we renegotiated the fee and everyone was thrilled.
It’s super important for artists to get paid. I no longer work for free, been there done that, it’s silly really. The work that we do on the planet, keeping the arts alive, keeping the creative spirit flowing is so important – I’ll save you my rants. The festival was very impressed that I had a teen crew and that they were being paid.
The day was long and after the girls left and the festival started to close down I kept working. At this point all the hard work is done and the piece takes on a life of it’s own. The Cosmic Serpent was now embodied with creativity. The artwork was a renewable source of creative energy.
At this point I get the play, experiment, explore, draw outside the lines. I was the last artist to leave the site. People had gathered around my piece. I let kids work near by and even dumped a mess of chalk near so people could keep drawing. I packed up, moved my truck, and was going to find some food before I left. I walked back to the site to get a few more photos and met more people, that’s part of the experience – all the interested people that happen to come along. Kids and adults. I meet 2 sets of women who all “got down” and did some drawing, one was a mother who drew the names of her 3 grown daughters as they watched and were thrilled – that was awesome!