Heaven-facing sculptures for Burning Man light a fire within

Matthew Welter of Timeless Sculptures works on the Sphinx sculpture.

Matthew Welter of Timeless Sculptures works on the Sphinx sculpture.

As an artist, Matthew Welter often turns his gaze heavenward. He looks for inspiration, guidance, knowledge.

In a new series of sculptures he’s creating for this year’s Burning Man, he explores iconic images that, too, have looked to the sky.

“They are watching for the Annunaki. They are watching to get in touch with their god,” he said. “Why do you watch the sky? Everybody’s got a reason.”

Adhering to the Burning Man 2013 theme of cargo cults, Welter, the owner of Timeless Sculptures in Carson City, researched the idea of ancient aliens as humanity’s mother race.

Here’s how he explains it:

“Ancient aliens visited Earth thousands of years ago, establishing colonies all over the globe. They genetically modified our DNA, taught us to build pyramids and megalithic structures, gave us art, agriculture, astronomy, mathematics and the concept of liberty — all before returning to the skies, leaving their indelible mark. They liberated us from ignorance by lighting a fire inside of humanity — that Annunaki.”

In homage to that, Welter, known as “Timeless” in Burning Man circles, has created 10-foot wooden sculptures of the Sphinx and the Moai, from Easter Island — both of which he believes were created by ancient civilizations to watch for the return of the mother race.

He’s hoping to sell one of the sculptures, priced at $15,000 each, to fund the creation of a third installment in the series — the face of Thomas Jefferson as depicted on Mount Rushmore.

“If any of the presidents on Rushmore believe in the coming of the Annunaki, it’s Jefferson,” Welter said. “He’s the only one looking at the sky.”

While Welter is new to the theory of the Annunaki, it streamlines well with his personal motif of promoting liberty and Burning Man’s obvious proclivity toward fire.

“The Annunaki liberated us from creaturehood,” he explained. “They lit the fire within. They gave us a reason to watch the skies and dream.”

Welter knows he is one of thousands who spend all year creating art installations for the weeklong event promoting radical self-expression in the Black Rock Desert north of Reno. It’s a shame, he said, that the art is only on display for a short time and to a limited audience.

“Every year, we get world-class art coming to Nevada,” he said. “Every year, they go back under old dusty tarps. We need to find a way to keep some of it in Nevada.”

He said Carson City should look into ways to display some of it in public spaces, and he hopes to create a sculpture garden in front of his own studio near U.S. Highway 395 and U.S. 50 West.

“One of the reasons I chose this property is because it is so visible,” he said. “I want to share art.”

Once he brings his sculptures to Burning Man, he plans to light a slow burning fire inside them — to create a burned look but without damaging the structural integrity — similar to a 4-foot sculpture he created of the Liberty Bell to represent the fire within.

Welter knows his point of view might not resonate with the masses, but he said he hopes his sculptures will inspire and serve as his legacy.

“I am an artist. I want to make sculptures that make a difference,” he said. “I want to leave meaningful sculptures that make people proud to be human.”


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