In the year since Sept. 11, 2001, we've seen many somber images fraught with the significance of that day. As we head toward another winter of uncertainty, it's nice to be reminded of the days when art was more often created for art's sake.
This joyous sculpture, dancing amid its own solar system, was captured by stock photographer Larry Brownstein just days before the 9/11 attacks, while he was attending a week-long event known as the Burning Man Festival.
Held every year the week before Labor Day, Burning Man is a free-form gathering of the avant-garde, who create temporary artworks in the remote Black Rock Desert outside Reno, Nev. At the end of the week, an enormous wooden statue in the shape of a standing figure is burned in a ritual bonfire, the significance of which is left to each viewer to decide.
As for the meaning of the blue statue, Brownstein says, "I have no idea. I was shooting what I liked and just happened to see it. I pretty much took one shot, then moved on. I don't know the artist. I don't even think it had a name. It was just there. That's what Burning Man is all about."
Largely self-taught, Brownstein has been a professional photographer since 1982, shooting people and scenery in Asia, Europe and the U.S. His stock photography business has a particular emphasis on the natural landscapes of the American Southwest and urban communities.
"I normally find myself drawn to celebrations and festivals," he says. "My subjects tend to be pretty commercial stuff. But some stuff is just fun — that's what this is."
Much of Brownstein's stock work has been published in calendars, greeting cards, and corporate and travel brochures. His images have appeared in such magazines as Discovery, Geo Traveler, Photo District News, Photographic and Rangefinder. He also writes a digital imaging tutorial column for Focus on Imaging magazine.
Brownstein was a principal photographer in the book "America the Beautiful" and is featured in the book "Best of Nature," to be released this fall by Amherst Media. For more information, visit his website at larrybrownstein.com.