Have you ever wanted to look into the mind of one of the greatest thinkers of all time? Now you can on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, where a 10-by-23-foot sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci’s head is on display.
“Inside the Mind of DaVinci” lies on the lawn in front of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. It was unveiled there Thursday, Nov. 17, after spending time at the Black Rock Desert for Burning Man. The piece will be displayed on campus until May 20, 2017, according to the lead artist, Mischell Riley. After that, it will be moved to downtown Carson City to be displayed in front of the community center.
Despite the sculpture being in the middle of campus, many students don’t know what it is or why it is here.
“I think what caught my attention the most is just the placement of it,” said Cassidy Leslie, a UNR student. “I think it’s a strange area to put it and certainly draws people’s attention. It is just randomly on campus with no clear obvious reason. I know it’s an art thing they’re doing in the Knowledge Center, but I don’t know the details.”
“The reason I brought it to UNR is because it started at UNR,” Riley said. “I went to the DeLaMare Library and worked with Dwight Boyko, a tech assistant, who helped me 3-D scan my life-size bust in clay. I wanted to bring ‘Inside the Mind of DaVinci’ to UNR to say thank you for these wonderful facilities and what you can do with access to them. My challenge to other students is to use the libraries and equipment in a similar or amazing way.”
Riley chose to display the sculpture outside the Knowledge Center because DaVinci inspired knowledge for all.
The piece is made out of concrete, bronze, recycled glass and metal. There are archways in the back of the head where visitors can enter the sculpture and experience a light show. There are also DaVinci’s sketches and writings etched into the walls inside.
There is a resting area inside the head where visitors can sit or play with cement balls. Burning Man attendees were encouraged to take these balls and create artworks in the playa sand.
There is a virtual reality experience in the Knowledge Center where students and visitors can see into the mind of the da Vinci statue.
The theme of this year’s festival was da Vinci’s Workshop, chosen because the population of Black Rock City increased to the size of Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance, according to the Burning Man website.
“[H]umanist ideals, a rediscovery of science and funding from a newly moneyed class of entrepreneurs fueled a revolutionary cultural movement that redefined Western civilization,” said the website. “Five centuries later, we will attempt to recreate this potent social alchemy by combining Burning Man art, maker culture and creative philanthropy to make Black Rock City the epicenter of a new renaissance.”
Riley said she wanted to create a community space that inspires mathematicians, artists and scientists. She wanted them to feel what it was like to stand in the mind of someone great.
“The response at Burning Man was amazing. It was the first time I was able to get feedback from people interacting with my art,” Riley said. “I was in costume, so I could listen to the responses without them knowing I was the artist. It was amazing and a life-changing experience for me. Watching them and seeing their faces on the inside of the mind of da Vinci was a special view inside how people experience to my art. That was priceless.”
To see more of Riley’s creations and upcoming projects, check out her website at www.bronzesbymischell.com.
Madeline Purdue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.