Carson residents head to Burning Man with homegrown art project

David and Debbie Lambin with “The Octagon” in front of their west Carson City home on Aug. 4.

David and Debbie Lambin with “The Octagon” in front of their west Carson City home on Aug. 4.
Photo by Scott Neuffer.

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The way Carson City resident David Lambin talks about the Carson City Audit Committee is not entirely dissimilar to the way he talks about Burning Man.

The 68-year-old was appointed to the Audit Committee by the Board of Supervisors this spring. The committee oversees the city’s internal controls and financial reporting.

“The audit committee is more like managing the managers,” David said in an interview Aug. 4. “We’re there to look and see what they do. Looking at the overall performance, looking at things conceptually more than line by line, is something I’m probably pretty good at.”

Not a surprise since David spent a career in insurance underwriting — still working from home for a firm he sold in 2008. His mindfulness and skillset also work for conceptual art, apparently. He and wife Debbie are headed to Burning Man early (the event starts Aug. 27) to set up their project, “The Octagon.”

Burning Man Arts, an arm of the nonprofit organization, chose the project for this year’s Black Rock City 2023 Honoraria program. In Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, the Lambins will be joining artists from Mexico, France, India, Ukraine and other places to install projects for this year’s “animalia” theme.

“It has depth and in itself has diversity,” David said of Burning Man. “It’s not just a party out in the desert where you can do anything. It’s got purpose.”

That purpose was manifest in “The Octagon,” which was displayed in the Lambins’ driveway off Bolero Drive on Aug. 4 before being disassembled for transport to “the playa.” It consists of eight 4-by-4 posts extending from a central hub like spokes of a wheel. At each end is another post extending upright 10 feet into the air. Rope connects the beams to the center, where a replica of a drilling rig stands. Solar-powered lights top the beams, and Debbie fashioned about 600 book sculptures to fasten to the ropes.

“Towards the middle of June, we started actually going vertical,” said David. “It’s been sitting here now basically for two months enduring the weather, enduring the winds, and (we’re) making sure everything is working. There are no sails, like a sailboat. There are no big pieces. And we have some good winds coming out of Kings Canyon.”

David, who did the fabricating, said the structure is intended to highlight Debbie’s more delicate artwork.

“So, it’s like a frame,” he said.

The couple was inspired by exploratory drilling proposed for the Black Rock Desert. The Burning Man Project filed a lawsuit against a geothermal project earlier this year, according to the Associated Press. “The Octagon” represents the body politic, the Lambins explained. The differently colored and shaped book sculptures gravitate toward the center, just like people learning about an issue and gaining strength in a cause. The Lambins also emphasized the reused materials of the project and the art of repurposing.

With a past career in computers, Debbie, 67, became an artist after homeschooling her children. The family lived in Gardnerville for years before eventually landing in Carson City circa 2018. Debbie said “a fluke” of repurposing a book led to a greater investment in book art. She now repurposes books in ways that have fascinated art enthusiasts across the state, including those at the Artsy Fartsy gallery in Carson City.

“As the kids got older, I started bringing more art into their worlds,” Debbie said.

The couple’s children are now grown. Jeff Lambin lives in Carson and is a pastor. Rachael and John-Henry are both doctors/artists and will be joining their parents at Burning Man this year.

“The event is a week long, and we get there half a week before to set up, and then we stay half a week afterward to make sure it’s ‘leave no trace,’” said David. “Being old school, Debbie and I feel if our names are on it, we got to make sure it’s done right.

“Our idea during the event is every morning and every evening, go out and make sure everything is still intact, the ropes are all still tight, and it’s still looking good.”

Rachael and Debbie experienced Burning Man for the first time in 2019, not knowing what to expect.

“We went for the art, and we loved the people,” said Debbie. “The people are incredible. There are really good, good souls out there.”

Debbie noted upward of 80,000 people turn out for the event, making “literally a city.” Both she and David said the famous burning of the namesake structure is impressive, but the burning of “the temple” the last day of the event is truly cathartic. The temple, they said, is a large, house-like structure people fill with items they need to let go of. Baby blankets, mementos from the Vietnam War and wedding dresses were some of the items they could recall.

“I can’t tell you how much goes off your shoulders,” David said.

“Just to be out on the playa and see it in the distance, it’s emotional,” added Debbie.

For information about Burning Man Arts, visit

For information about Lambin Arts visit,


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