There are times in one’s life when you recognize your deepest desires through seeing them in another. Connecting with Anne Staveley and Jill Sutherland has been one of those moments in my life. Anne and Jill are both accomplished artists and passionate adventurers, women fearlessly manifesting their creative dreams. The part that really touches me is that they do it together, creating a synergistic potential beyond what either of them could do on their own. Their latest project for their company LivinLargePhoto is The Wheel of Fortune Tarot. This year at Burning Man, the arts festival in the Nevada desert, they created an interactive installation of 22 life-size doorways that people could walk through that had their images for the cards installed on the inside of each opening. They have also installed photo murals of several of these multiple-exposure, surreal images onto interior and exterior public walls and they now sell a set of the 22 Major Arcana cards that will eventually become the full 78 card deck. Their Crowdfunding campaign was very successful, bringing in over $14,000 to supplement the grant they got from the Burning Man organization to build the Wheel at the 2014 gathering.
Creative Soul Mates
Jill and Anne’s connection is another affirmation that we each have predetermined fates and that there are people we are destined to meet and collaborate with. In one way or another the universe will spin us together to fulfill those potentials. They both grew up in the same place in New Mexico and later attended the same school in California. They have a thirteen year age difference, so they were eventually connected by mutual friends who recognized the similarities between them. They see themselves as sister comrades and they are constantly inspiring and teaching each other. Jill said their connection is like a “twin-star moment,” and it’s easier to dream up ideas and manifest them together. Anne offers that they have similar styles, but they both come at things in a different way and that creates an amazing creative cohesion.
They live in different states and they call their two locations “Santafornia” for Santa Fe, NM and Los Angeles, CA. I asked them how that affects their collaborations and they both agreed it is ideal. They are strongly connected on the phone, Facetime, Google Hang Out, and using Google Docs, but they also have the time and space to get a lot done in the quiet of their own spheres. I have been reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain about the power of introverts and this is exactly what people who are highly creative really want. A lot of time alone to let the inspirations come through and then some selective engagement with others to bounce things off of them and co-create.
In doing these interviews about deck creators, it is interesting how the Tarot calls some artists who may not have a background in mystical divinatory practices. Neither Jill nor Anne knew a lot about the Tarot before they were called to this project, but over the last two years it has woven into their worlds. They simultaneously had a vision for doing a series of portraits for a deck and saw the large, interactive experiences with the doorways as well. They split up the 22 cards between them and each very consciously chose who they would invite to model for each of the images. Both Anne and Jill, as well as the models, found the experience to be more potent and transformative then they could have anticipated. Here are two testimonials from Wheel of Fortune models:
3 EMPRESS – Emily Rapp
“For me, it was hugely meaningful. First, I was pregnant, so it was amazing to experience my body as powerful and big and strong and bursting in a culture where women are taught to make themselves skinny and small and compact. We were outside, which was fun, since I was naked, and it was amazing to feel so uninhibited, so proud of my body, which has never been the case for me. Also, on the mesa where we took the photographs, there’s a tree under which I buried a lock of my son’s hair after he died. So my daughter was there inside of me still (although she arrived 2 days later), and we were right near part of Ronan. The closest my children will ever be to one another, at least physically. I also liked the experience of writing while naked — so much about writing is BEING naked, so to write wearing little more than a cape was interesting and profound for me. As a person with a disability, I’ve always felt my body was wrong in some way, but when I see the images here in the Arcana, I feel powerful and archetypal and normal.”
16 TOWER – Amber Dawn
“It is difficult to put into words just how deep of an experience doing the photo shoot for the Tower Card was, because ultimately it was and is still, life-changing. I was asked to cry for the photo shoot, to break down in front of the camera. I remember waking up that morning feeling positive and happy, “this won’t work” I thought to myself. So when I arrived at Anne’s house, I looked at photos of the 9/11 twin tower attacks. Those poor people having no other choice but to jump out of a window or be crushed by the buildings! I felt their pain. I also tapped into to some recent emotional wounds of my own caused by my Sister. Tears flowed! It was very empowering to breakdown like that in front of Anne and her camera. She held the container around us so peacefully, without judgement…The Tower card is about your falsely built foundations breaking down all around you. You must trust it, allow the destruction to happen because ultimately, destruction breeds creation. Once you live through your tower falling and learn the lessons its taught you, you can then rebuild your new foundations based on your truth. Only then can you breakthrough into the Truth of your essence. Since this photo shoot 9 months ago, many weak foundations in my life have crumbled down around me. At times I felt lost. Other times I felt at peace, knowing that something bigger and better was to come! I am now stronger than I’ve ever been in my life, having lived through this time of breaking down and breaking through. Now with my feet firmly planted on my new foundations, I’m pregnant with my first child!”
Burning Man Installation
The vision for creating the interactive structure has grown and morphed, becoming a living organism. The entire Wheel of Fortune project has been a community endeavor and so many people stepped forth to help with all aspects of manifesting such an ambitious installation. The 26 foot curricular structure is made up of 22 salvaged doors with a spinning wheel of light in the center. When you enter the oracular temple you do not know what gateway you are walking through, but as you leave you may take your destiny into your own hands. As one attendee offered:
“Thank you for this amazing project! I think it was the best piece on the playa this year. I loved walking through a door, and then the dawning realization of what you’ve just done – picked a card! Gathered insight! The experience was enhanced by the stunning photography and enticing architecture. The profound final step, which you don’t mention in the short film, was leaving the wheel – because then it is no longer Chance giving you insight, but suddenly I had to make the CHOICE about which door to use to re-enter the world! Maybe it could be a metaphor for the Burning Man experience at large, eh? Come with ignorance, leave with the gift of unexpected insight and necessarily make some conscious decisions about your own destiny.” – Betsi
This wonderful five-minute video offers a multidimensional view into this amazing salvaged sanctuary in the desert: http://vimeo.com/110310994
There are definite patterns to Crowdfunding, and one of them is that people usually do not ask for enough. Really crunch your numbers well and know all of the fees up front, calculate international shipping and add some extra for cost over runs. Both Anne and Jill wished they had made their goal a little higher and they ended up having some out-of-pocket expenses. There are always unforeseen costs and we want to be thriving in our creative endeavors, so be bold and add 20% onto your goal.
They both agreed that you must offer desirable rewards. This is part of the Crowdfunding exchange and enticing goodies do pull people in and keep them excited about your campaign. And hopefully your perks are directly related to what your project is so they bring another level of connection to your unique offering.
They feel part of the reason the campaign was successful was that there were so many other people directly involved. They became cheerleaders for the campaign beyond Anne and Jill’s networking. Having different models for the cards is a brilliant way to make the project a community creation, and all of those other folks will be invaluable in spreading the campaign across social media and their unique networks of people.
Their campaign was short, just 22 days (like the 22 Major Arcana cards in the Tarot) because they had been waiting to see if the Burning Man grant came through with the other funds they needed. The campaign was fully funded five days before it ended and they continued to raise money beyond their initial $13,000 goal. After receiving the funds they had a brisk schedule for completing the structure and heading off to the desert three weeks before Burning Man began to erect it.
If you are going to live your visions at this pivotal time, it is essential to have radical trust. And that radical trust means you may get the funding two days before you need it, but you continue on and know that it will all flow together somehow as it did for this project. Anne and Jill had a deep faith in letting the wheel spin the synchronicities and allies they needed to make the projects a reality. They believe that the job of creators at this time is to fearlessly ask your community for support, share your enthusiasm, and voice your dreams. They also shared that after waving your flags for your project so vigorously, there can be some postpartum fatigue and to take good care of yourself because crowdfunding takes an enormous amount of energy and after the big push you may be exhausted.
The community building aspect of Crowdfunding is also an intangible and essential part of this fascinating new platform. Anne says she continues to have people stop her on the street in Santa Fe and tell her how they were part of the Wheel campaign. And she always tells them, “This couldn’t have happened without you. You made this project possible.” That is the beauty of crowdsourcing, welcoming people into something they can be inspired by in really fun, sustainable, effortless ways. Jill said that if we look at the resources artists are receiving to fund their work compared to the global financial markets, it is a literal drop in the bucket. Your $10 pledge could be the difference between artists having the funding to complete a project that could transform our world and them not making their goal. Anne said whenever someone sends her a link to another campaign she always pledges, knowing that her infusion of support does matter. Where else do we have that much power this easily?
Photography Decks Emerging
I am totally in love with the Wheel of Fortune images. They carry both a raw, earthen power combined with a sophisticated graphic elegance. The way they have layered the images is exquisite, and I want to see more! There is clearly something in the air about more photography decks being birthed at this time. There was the original Mountain Dream Tarot that still has great charm; one of my all-time favorites The Abyssal Tarot with erotic underwater portraits; my own Oracle of Initiation with its unaltered dream-like photographs; The City Mystics NY Tarot has multi-layered black and white images of the hidden messages of that archetypal city; and The Magical Realism Tarot has vintage-looking fantastical portraits. What impresses me about all of these decks is the mastery of vision. These are artists who have reached a level of excellence that deserves to be seen and shared, and their work also functions as magical tools as well. How does it get any better than that?
Anne and Jill both feel that the Wheel of Fortune project is in its adolescence and they want to give it the time and space to grow and expand. They have some ideas floating around for another installation at Burning Man in 2016 that would offer the feeling of community with sound and light and emotion in a multi-dimensional experience that may be named the Light House. They are also open to the Wheel structure traveling around the globe, and I am sure many other juicy projects will pop up for these two in the future. You can buy the 22 card deck here for $37: http://wheeloffortune-tarot.com/products/wheel-of-fortune-deck-of-the-22-major-arcana
The Nuts & Bolts of the Campaign
The Wheel of Fortune Tarot & Installation
The Kickstarter campaign ran from June 2nd to June 24th, 2014 for 22 days total. Their funding goal was $13,000 and they ended up raising $14,434. 128 people contributed, with 68 (mini) decks chosen and 85 prints of the images. This is the largest number of prints I have ever seen chosen and that speaks to the fact that both Anne and Jill have successful careers as photographers. And interestingly for the mini deck option only, 22 decks were chosen @ $60 each.
The perks of the deck’s images are metallic prints. Here is the breakdown of sizes chosen: 32-5×7” prints @ $25 each; 44-8×10” @ $45 each; 5-11×17” @ $250 each; and 4-16×24” prints @ $500 each along with a private photo shoot with either Anne or Jill in that combination. And one rock star funded the $1,000 level and who knows what perks they chose.
And remember, only 8 more days to save 20% off Oracle of Initiation decks, readings, and fine art prints. Decks starting at just $44 and prints at $20: