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This project was successfully funded on May 1, 2018

Maya's Mind Goes to the Smithsonian

by Mischell Riley


Maya's Mind is a large bust of Maya Angelo on top of 3 books where you can walk into the back of her head.  Maya's Mind is a 15 foot tall 7 feet wide sculpture of Maya Angelou the African American great poet. This sculpture will be a large bust that will be placed on 3 books laying flat and creating a stairway that you can walk up into Maya's mind.

The sculpture originally debuted at the 2017 Burningman Festival, and now is making its way to the Smithsonian for Renwick Gallery's newest exhibition, "No Spectators: The Art of Burningman". The exhibit brings the large-scale, participatory work from this desert gathering to the nation’s capital for the first time. The exhibition takes over the entire Renwick Gallery building, bringing alive the maker culture and creative spirit of this cultural movement. Immersive room-sized installations, costumes, jewelry, and ephemera transport visitors to the gathering’s famed “Playa,” while photographs and archival materials from the Nevada Museum of Art trace Burning Man’s growth and its bohemian roots.


The top of her head on the inside will be hanging a Birdcage that has no bottom and inside will be a bird in honor of her most famous book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. On top of her bust she'll have a head wrap that turns into Birds taking flight symbolizing I Rise I Rise Again.    Walking up into the back of the open head area will be a mural of her childhood and different phases of her life including her famous poetry readings and interaction touching surfaces with different textures and shapes and discovering hidden pictures under, in, and around things. I am hoping to have voice activation for some of her poetry if I get permission to use her voice. Her voice is unique and powerful. 


Participants will be encouraged and inspired to help write lines of poetry in blank paged books hang throughout the inside her of her mind. Discovering here great works and creating some of your very own poetry, it's passable for your first time to attempt writing a powerful poem, about love, loss, global warming, women's rights.The final poems will be posted online after the event. I am choosing Maya Angelou for the purpose of promoting women in history. I don't think enough women have been recognized in sculpture and monuments. I've had 9 government grants and they all seem to be for men by men about men.



My mission is to do Maya Angelou, Jane Goodall, Amelia Earhart and so on... So when young women go to parks and public places we also have someone to look up to women of strength and power and women you inspire us to take greater steps in our own lives.  I want to represent women of every race religion of all nationalities to lead guide and Inspire us. We represent half the planet and I want to help us to have a voice through the Arts. 



The Smithsonian has been an incredible contributor to the project. They have generously donated $18000 of the total $26,000 budget it will take to get Maya's Mind installed. The funds raised through our Hatchfund campaign will go towards transportation costs, and crane rental to install the 6000 pound sculpture in DC. 

We have great news. We can now offer the original Maquette life-size bust of Maya's Mind signed by the artist as a fundraiser for Maya's Mind going to the Smithsonian in Washington DC this March 17th. The Maya Angelou Foundation is helping with the funding by allowing me to offer a first time limited admission of 20 sculptures. Cast in the same medium acid stained reinforced concrete as the 20 foot sculpture. The patina will be the same as the original sculpture seen at Burning Man with a glossy finish. This bust is roughly 17 inches tall and 8 inches wide. Available for $450.00. Arrange for pick up at the 1240 Icehouse in Sparks NV. The Generator. Or ship it to your home. Shipping is separate. A 3 month production time is needed. 

Please consider supporting this project by making a tax-deductible contribution to my Hatchfund today. 


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