Meet The Artist: Marco Cochrane on Truth is Beauty” for No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man”

  • Marco Cochrane describes the process of making his towering sculpture, Truth is Beauty, and the powerful feminist message behind the work in No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

    MARCO COCHRANE: I’m Marco Cochrane, and I’m at the Renwick Gallery, and this is “Truth is Beauty.” “Truth is Beauty” is an 18-foot sculpture made out of stainless steel. It’s the one-third scale version of the giant one, which is fifty-five feet tall that was at Burning Man.

    I first went to Burning Man in 2007, and that was a pretty crazy year. There were 10 30-foot figures and that got me thinking about scale. My intent with these sculptures is to ask women to express how they would feel if they were safe to find that place in themselves that’s just expressing how they would be if they could do whatever they wanted. What happens is people see it and go, “wow, that’s really beautiful.” Then, they walk around and go, “wow, is this a real person?” I go, “yeah, it is a real person.”

    The model for this piece is Deja Solis. With this one, she is accepting her truth, which is that she’s tall. The thing that she worries about. I guess people have to worry about something all the time. Height was the thing she was worried about at the time, accepting that and this was her reaction to just feeling like, “okay, I’m tall, and I’m just going to be tall.” Deja and I worked together to make it feel right. I’m sculpting, and she is seeing what I’m doing and she would go, “no, it’s a little more like this.” She would change her body a little bit to get it to say what she wanted it to say.

    I think the interesting thing about sculpture and figurative sculpture is that it speaks in body language. Body language is 80 percent of our communication. This is saying something on a really cellular level all the time.

    Most people think this is done by computer and that there are computers involved in making these and there aren’t any. There are no computers involved in making this. This is all old style, made by hand, sculpting. It’s pretty old technology. The enlargements are done with a pantograph, which was invented in 1602, so that’s old tech. The hair is made out of stainless-steel cable that’s been unwound, then made into individual strands, and then welded onto a structure and then put on the head. There is some level of it’s okay to look at them, because they are so huge. When they are life-size, people kind of go, “that’s too, am I supposed to look at that?” But when they are giant, it works. Hopefully that humanity comes through.