The Drachen Foundation prides itself on the idea that kites are a powerful teaching tool and our number one job is to take that tool to places it's never been. For our first decade, most of our projects were built around kite people and kite events; we reached the general public, but were often "preaching to the choir." It has been with great excitement that in the last few years, we have done projects with high-profile Mexican artists and art students, we have presented to the National Art Educators at their national convention, and we have continued to enable teachers of various subjects to use kites in their classrooms to teach art, culture, history, and science. All of these forums, far from the mainstream kite-enclaves.
Photo by Jose Sainz, who writes: "A grouping of delta wings from Premier Kites that I use for large displays, you may also recognize one of Martin's Red Devil Spirit kites below. He made this for me a few years back."
But could it be that we've overlooked another forum where kites directly influence their audience? That heretofore overlooked forum? Burning Man, the alternative arts festival held annually in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada (Burning Man is that largest arts-granting organization in California, to give you some idea of how it's grown). Here, over the last fifteen years (approximately, and coincidentally about the same age as the Foundation), the Department of Tethered Aviation has been a constant reminder to the participants, that kites and kite flying might hold a special place in their lives. To date, two Drachen Foundation Board Memebers have participated at Burning Man and many friends of the Foundation have commented for years that the "scene" there is ripe for the many positives of kites. I can remember feeling that Corey Jensen had somehow performed kite sacrilege when he - years ago - chose Burning Man instead of the Washington State International Kite Festival (Long Beach). But I must admit, here was a new forum for kites, one at which the average participant had no knowledge or interest in kites (a far cry from the participants and audience at Long Beach).
Photos by Jose Sainz, who writes: "This is what we do...and this is why I get so excited about the event." LEFT: "Rachel Ward, one of our campmates from Ojai, CA flying a delta kite." RIGHT: "My kite and Tim's kite interacting with a fabulous metal winged sculture, and our team of wind worshipers (Ruth, Cameron, Casey) doing their thing...notice the shadow on Tim's kite...it was just a lovely afternoon!"
So it is not without a little trepidation that I've chosen to attend Burning Man this year. Friends worked very hard to show me that this was an event I had to attend - for kites! So I'll continue this blog from the Black Rock Desert and try to give you all an idea, from the kite perspective, of its significance. I know I'll come home covered with dust, but between now and then, what in the kite-world will happen?
Wish me luck!