Saturday, October 18, 2008

Project 30: "The Not So Secret Stencil Mission"

Task 19/30: Stencil Something
Complete: August 29, 2008

I am not sure how long ago it was that I saw my first stencil in the Mission, but public art has become one of those things that I am not sure I will ever stop obsessing over. Art in the public domain is symbolic and representative and speaks volumes about the culture in which is resides. I love statues, I love sculpture, but it is no secret that I love paint, and have an appreciation for the clever. The worldwide stencil invasion reached the cement of San Francisco and next to the beautiful murals of Clarion street came the spray painted sentiments of so-called rebels looking to bask in the glory of Banksy. The invasion reached me, and my lens, and I began driving miles just to walk solo steps through alleys and up sidewalks trying to find a stray scattering of paint left by some bold worldly mentor. I was in awe. I was envious. I wanted to be as clever and stunning, secretly admired. I wanted to stencil.

My idea when I added this to the project that I would find something stellar and witty that I thought was so brilliant that it should be shared illegally with everyone. I thought for months, brainstormed with friends, it was consuming at times. There was the idea that I could design a stencil that friends everywhere could use, and it would be symbolic. Then there was funny phrases and sweet designs that we came up with, quotes from songs, personal jokes, but none so wonderful that they were what I wanted to scar the world with.

The night before I left for Burning Man, I thought about the people who had designed stencils and set out in front of their camps for people to create t-shirts or remember their moments. I remember being sad in the past that I would hear about them or would find them but not be wearing anything but a bikini top. I thought I could design something similar, maybe our camp name, maybe the year. I tried and it was harder than I thought to carve the letters into the cardboard, and I found myself failing at my task. I wished I had a template to trace, something wonderful that said me. I had a mask from ComicCon, an Emily the Strange mask, that is one of my favorites and certainly a black cat says me. So I played and traced and in the end, found myself with a structure for a double layered symbol of my affection that I packed into my bins with some silver and blue thinking maybe I would be bold and spray the man, maybe the temple in honor of my beloved Bella.

2 Color Cat Stencil

What a blessing occurred when we got to the playa and less than a block away became the Morphing Mural of 4:30 and E. I was shy, I wanted to paint, but some of the things seemed beautiful and brilliant and so I stayed away. Then later in the week came and I got bold and so we went and I sprayed my space kitty on the wall. I was proud, I had contributed to something that had become a very large part of my days in my week. I was brave, I created, and I accomplished. I was a bit sad, I created a tiny mess but I dilligently cleaned up what I could. It was a good thing with our timing, because had I waited until that evening, to do it under the dead of darkness, the mural would have been taken down and been done, and I would likely be regreting that I was afraid to push myself off the edge. Instead, I sprayed, and I am proud.

Stencil Mission

While again, it wasn't exactly what I had intended when I started this project and made my list, I think since so many of the things are turning out that way, and the spirit remains the same, so I am calling this "Mission Complete". Maybe I will find some secret place back here in the default world to spray my stencil. Maybe I will do it somewhere I walk often, maybe that way when I see it, I will remember that I am brave, that I am powerful, that I am that girl from the playa that can do anything.

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