Tell us a bit about Mariposita.
Chris Carnabuci: Mariposita is inspired by a piece I created in 2014 called Fertility, a 30-inch-tall solid egg, with the bust of Aphrodite carved into it. I always knew at some point I would bring back that theme, and that, coupled with a desire to exhibit on Playa at Burning Man, compelled me to create Mariposita.
Mariposita is made of CNC cut, stacked slices of solid core wood panels. I began the process with a 3D model of the female figure, then “sliced” the model into 350+ horizontal layers through the Cad software, Slicer for Fusion 360. I moved these individual layers into AutoCad, and divided each one into pieces small enough so that several would fit on a standard 4-by-8 wood panel. After arranging each of the 3,000+ pieces on virtual panels, my AlphaCam software enabled me to select the particular CNC tool (router bit), and other settings, so that a code could be generated for the CNC machine to read. With this information, I then fed the machine over 250 panels, one at a time, and produced the pieces. Once each piece was cleaned and sanded, I assembled them into individual layers, and glued several layers at a time into blocks. These blocks were then stacked and temporarily secured on top of each other at my shop to create the sculpture.
After many iterations, I came up with a “rib and slat” design for the shell which allows 360-degree viewing, and an up-close-and-personal experience with Mariposita. While the production process was the same, I knew that because of height restrictions I could not fully assemble the shell until it was on site at Burning Man. So I put my faith in the design, and the accuracy of the CNC machine, that all the pieces would fit together, and the entire sculpture would be stable and secure. I plan to drive the sculpture in pieces across country to the Burn, where I will meet my crew, and bring her to life in the desert.
What do you hope to communicate through the piece?
C.C.: We are in the midst of continually challenging times. Women bear the brunt of this, because the “powers that be” threaten the most fundamental of rights. I have two strong and exceptional daughters, and a fiercely powerful wife. When I created Mariposita, I wanted to illustrate this strength and power—breaking societal bonds and misdirection that impede personal growth and self-actualization. In fact, Mariposita represents all of us, offering an example of hope and determination to find our inner strength—to be free.