Maya's Mind 2017
Mischell Riley brought Maya's Mind
to Burning Man in 2017; this work followed a ten-foot-tall bust of Leonardo da Vinci that she created for the event in 2016. With their rugged finishes, Riley's works blend with the dusty surrounds of Burning Man and have the patina of ancient ruins.
As a professional sculptor for more than three decades, Riley has received numerous public and private commissions for portrayals of wildlife, notable Americans, and people in profound circumstances. She is adept at capturing the emotional spirit of her subjects. Maya's Mind
is the first in a series of monuments—soon to include Jane Goodall and Amelia Earhart—aimed at increasing the representation of women of all races and religions in public sculpture. The sculpture features a cast twenty-foot bust of the late Maya Angelou set on a stack of books. Adding a layer of sensory experience, the artist added an audio component that recites excerpts from Angelou's poem, Still I Rise
, at the push of a button.
The placement of these outdoor sculptures and related programming are made possible by the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District in collaboration with the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Support is provided by Lyft.
Do not climb on sculpture
From the Desert to DC
This sculpture is one of six outdoor installations presented as part of No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man
, a takeover of the entire Renwick Gallery that extends into the Golden Triangle neighborhood.
For a map of artworks, artist interviews, and more information go to:
Artist: Mischell Riley
Maya's Mind is a twenty foot tall by nine foot wide sculpture of Maya Angelou, great African American poet, singer, activist. This sculpture is a large bust that is mounted on three stacked books creating steps that you can climb up and into Maya's Mind to hear her recite her poem "Still I Rise". Her voice is unique and powerful, adding a dimension and presence in the sculpture that evokes a sort of reverence. At the top of her head bangs an empty birdcage that has no bottom in honor of her famous book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". Her head wrap turns into birds taking flight symbolizing her poem "Still I Rise". Walking up into the back of the open head area will be a written page
I have chosen Maya Angelou for the purpose of promoting women in history. I think women are underrepresented in historical sculptures and monuments. Most of all my nine life size bronze government grants were for men, by men, about men and nothing representing women. For my next pieces, I will be sculpting Jane Goodall, Amelia Earhart, and Camille Claudel. When young women go to parks and public places they will have someone to aspire to. Women of strength and power. Women who challenge us to take greater steps in our own lives. Working through their foundations with smaller sculptures, I want to raise funds for scholarships for women in arts and science. I want to help the next generation of women of every race, religion and nationality to lead us all. Women represent half the planet and I want them to have a voice in history through the Arts.
Participate in the cause
Used with permission of Caged Bird Legacy, LLC