Art I Made in Q2–2022

Chuk Moran
10 min readJan 26, 2023

In retrospect, this quarter involved exhibiting a lot of work which I reused very efficiently. I kinda made a lot of art, but mostly I just executed on solid concepts and cooperated with other people to stand up big projects.

At home, I focused on icons of our house. We also threw a house party that ended up exploring a fun artistic medium that I used extensively later in the year.

Around the House

This cloud, built by Renee long ago, was worn down and badly discolored. I took it down, sanded it, cleaned it up, then refinished and remounted it. This paid off about a year later when we got weeks of rain and the cloud was protected.
April marked five years in this house, so I started exploring a tattoo commemorating the house during this quarter.
Then I got the tattoo.

I don’t believe that having a single logo repeated everywhere is important. I don’t think it’s how humans experience organizations and I think that the thing you are reprsenting itself continues to grow and change. (Maybe it’s better for simple minded people or people who barely know you exist?) I know the Brand industry pushes logo and uniformity. We tend to accept this without challenge.

Anyway, Cloud Castle changes every year with different residents and practices. This tattoo is a personal opportunity to decorate the blank canvas of my skin with a fun image that denotes a nice house I have had the fortune to cultivate and participate in for a few years. The cloud in front of our house is decoration that no one can complain about, because it’s officially our symbol so that somehow justifies its existence.

We had a “red tape” themed party that ended up being more focused on actual tape than bureaucracy, despite many people’s ridiculous bureaucracy activities and outfits.
Red tape is just really fun to work with and can hold many things together. It has a dreamy ability to link distant points, go on quickly, and ball up into unexpected shapes holding stuff together. Here, two rats from Q1 float in the air suspended in a red tape placenta?
Drawing with tape is also great. Here we hashed out the meaning of “dinghy.” Various contributors added their own stuff here and it was fun.

House party themes are a good opportunity to experiment with some ideas and materials that might be useful in future art projects. Not everything about the theme works great, but you can learn from the hits and give up on the whiffs.

Building Stuff

Basically exhibiting work outdoors requires building an indoors, usually with EZ-ups. In 2019, I underwent a thorough design process for lightweight wood shade cubes that could fit inside my car. Here, in 2022, I had a roof rack and even better transportation options (more financial security plus friends with more load capacity). So I dreamed up this maximally efficient structure to let us have walls, a roof, a door, or whatever other features we wanted to screw into a wood frame.

For this structure, I bought about 30 8 foot 2x2 boards, sanded, then applied a stain + finish. I learned to buy pre-sanded boards to save time and to stock extra stain so I didn’t have to switch colors! My process involved working on batches of around 8 boards at a time. It went on for a few weeks.
The basic model was the same as that from 2019, except now we had full length 8' boards (rather than joining two half length boards together onsite). Assembling this onsite isn’t instant, but it is very straightforward.
Here are some tiny supporting pieces of the structure. It ended up going many places in 2022.
The “schoolhouse” diagrammed here is 16' wide, 8' deep, and 8' tall. I had hoped this diagram would help others build onsite, but the notion that people read instructions before events or operate autonomously using written instructions is a deliberate lie taught in my education.
You can see the biggest benefit of this structure: you can mount anything anywhere. The chalkboards were scrap boards coated with chalkboard paint. On the other hand, putting up the roof fabric is a lot of work.
Here I added a little bookshelf with a combination of books for the specific project, books I had made for other events before, and other books I carry around and generally deploy in Friendship Park.

I’d love to find a better system than these wood cubes, but given my transportation, storage, and budget I am skeptical that another will come around soon. The main area for improvement here is that these structures take about an hour to put together.

Alongside the 2"x2" structure, I continued development with the farming bamboo.

I got this stash of bamboo back in summer of 2021, so was trying to find ways to use it. In Q1, I tried another structure that was unimpressive.

Really simple plan.
See the bamboo structure far left in frame, with white fabric stretched over it. This configuration had many problems and fell over in the wind. It was a cute idea to pair these with patches of artificial turf, but it wasn’t actually a winner.
These last-minute foamcore saloon doors struggled with wind (I eventually used zipties on the bamboo to create tension holding them in place). But it was a cute way to dress up our fort a bit and let us feel special using the back door. This kind of modification is easy with a wood framed indoor space, but could be a hassle to attach on an EZ-up (metal) or other structure.

The bamboo proved extremely useful as spears, which we sometimes called “staffs” to workaround bans on fake weapons at some events. The bamboo is also a fun dowel, though not great at holding screws.



I started building skulls in Q1–2022 because it was a fun papier-mâché project that would be entirely biodegradable and prepared far in advance, to be unleashed at various projects throughout the year.

This effort continued into Q2, with a final headcount of about 20. The display concept: a rack of skulls has a great visual impact from a distance and sets the tone of your project. I added nuance with the idea that skulls could be decorated as specific people.

The armature is a baloon with some cardboard, then I iterate on the papier mache, paint with Milk Paint and then finish with Shellac, keeping it compostable.
Rounding up props for this was easy, though certainly some worked better than others.
In this iteration, we showed “students brought to justice” to imply we had murdered many students at a pretend high school, for reasons clearly stated on the card. Ana spent about an hour setting this up onsite, matching the name, crime, skull, and props to bring the stories to life. This was definitely the best run for the skulls.
Ultimately the skull project had one huge problem: a sack of skulls takes up too much space! Every time I tried to bring out the skulls, transport was an issue. At least they’re biodegradable. Lots of hours went into this project.
At the end of the Explorey Torium project, we stabbed a bunch of skulls on a spear and went on a hunt for the Blarney stone, which had been swapped out for a custom made Barney head!

Thematically, I can’t say that skulls connote death or anything deep to me. They just tend to accompany things that are considered evil, which are generally some of the most interesting places in cultural narratives. Villainous lairs, dark cultist temples, and so forth are usually where the narrative’s creators get to go wild and explore. It’s the far extreme from the good hero’s humble village home. That place is generally pretty boring. I think that’s part of why I wanted skulls to bring around.

Talky Feely Board Game

Another epic build, here we started with a funny Buy Nothing find and built our own custom version. The game’s structure is quite good: on your turn, you roll dice to advance to a spot, then draw a card based on the spot’s color; each card is a prompt for you to share about feelings, talk about ideas, or act something out.

The original game‘s graphic design has aged poorly.

I worked with Sophie rewriting all 300 cards for our “Bad Parenting” theme project (with disturbing questions about parenting), and then again for our “Explorey Torium” (with inspiring questions about discovery and wonder). Big commitment and high cost to print, but great result.

Designing this snaking board was quite challenging, but I eventually found a technique that worked. I used a fat stroke as a mask over rectangles. Then the rectangles become spots on the board and get text rotated and positioned manually.
We quickly learned that many players wanted to engage for only a single turn, so we added a spinner (repainted an old one) that lets you just take a spin, draw a card, and respond to a single prompt. Those who want can stick around for another spin, or grab a pawn and jump into the full game. Usually, when we’re running this game, we hold it down playing the full game with pawns.

The deranged concept behind this one is that we’d have fun with a psychiatric game for children designed to abbreviate therapeutic sessions by eliciting psychodynamically meaningful content. The format lets you explore rather big and strange ideas that are lurking just a sentence or two away from your existing reality.

The explorey cards invite you to imagine fun things!

Smaller Bad Parenting Projects

The theme of “Bad Parenting Academy” never spoke to me, but I joined the project and interpreted it as the Addams family. Childish creepiness is a comfortable space that I think most people (who feel in any way outcast from mainstream society) can inhabit for a fantastic moment.

Indecent dominoes. I did this one with Dave, who pulled the trigger on ordering the dominones. The spray adhesive showed through, the dominoes were too small, but the idea was ok and some people played this game sometimes.

Ok the logical equivalence between swearing and numbered dominoes is probably the main reason I kept pushing here! Also Dave ordered the dominoes so we had to follow through.

I usually pick up some props like this to deliver on a specific theme. Here, I was going for Addams family creepiness with unhelpful guidance on how to be a parent.
Sydney painting the base coat on a banner sign. The paint helps let your final display text shine.
The Bad Parenting Academy was a hit. The wood frame, skulls, and gaming table provided a platform on which other people setup their projects. Pictured here is “children’s cocktail hour” with pretend-alcoholic drinks like “Children’s Wine” which is just grape juice in a wine bottle with a funny label.

This was a new sign concept: a stretch of fabric stapled on large dowels and painted with house paint. It worked well and I eventually found an even cooler alternative based on it. Making signs for projects is a requirement and often a problem.

Smaller Explorey Torium Projects

At another event during this quarter, they asked for us to work in th theme of High School. The “Explorey Torium” was our compromise with that premise. Building a science museum full of interactive pieces was appealing, because that’s basically what I wanted to do anyway. Interactive art lets people relate in a more fun and fantastical way than talking about whether or not they had a hard week at work or their boyfriend is annoying this week. I added the “Explorey Scout” angle here because I had a growing inclination from the previous year to go around behaving well and having wholesome fun, in contrast to the typical “cooler than you” partier attitude that one is on break, not responsible for anything, and will leave things worse than you found them.

The Explorey Torium reused most of the bigger efforts from Bad Parenting Academy, but added a new theme, iterated on many things, and included a whole bunch of new stuff.
I built this Blarney Stone from papier mache (over cut cardboard box armature). The joke is that if you kiss it, you have to talk in an Irish accent. I worked with Sophie for a long time getting the Irish accent down so we could use it and encourage others.
You have to kiss the Blarney stone upside down.
Andie made us Explorey Scout cookies, which were boxes advertising an experience, and then a diorama inside delivering that experience, eg the “eight-legged delights” is really full of toy spiders in webs. I grabbed some Girl Scout songs, formatted, printed, and mounted them. Luckily several participants on the project wanted to sing songs together as a group, so learned “Make New Friends” and sang it whenever possible.

People who are motivated by belonging are new and confusing to me, but can be helpful as a mob wearing matching costumes. They create delight in the streets. I find it unnerving and personally have an extreme distrust for groups, especially that offer membership and belonging.

I also made a lot of posters.

For some reason, at this event, I felt clear that 8.5" x 11" posters would be ideal. I think because the event theme was “High School” it felt appropriate to under-deliver on production value for print projects? Anyway, most of my effort went into a smear campaign against us to make our Explorey Scouts seem edgy and exciting.

The central art piece for the Explorey project was “explorey holes” which are basically little dioramas. You look in through a hole and see something interesting. I loved this idea because it’s potentially modular, allowing each contributor to make their own small thing, then plug it into a larger structure. I think that worked a bit, but it’s always challenging trying to collaborate with people who say one thing and then do another. They say “I’ll make one!” but then they don’t. I have learned that most people do not notice the difference between what they say and what they do; I think it’s a common “friendly” practice to ignore and downplay such everyday disappointing deception.

My prototype box.
My finished “Fuck Hole” box. Keep it simple.
I did a run of little signs for within the Explorey Torium space.
Sadly, there was quite a bit of rain at this event. Luckily, Renee lead a rainproofing project during out setup time so we were the most rain-proof project around! Powerful collaborators are such an asset.
Many other artists worked with me on the Explorey Torium but this retro is about the art I did! Here you can see Tyler’s phone that leads you on puzzle quests, Liz and Andie’s chalk work, and many holes containing dioramas built by different people!

Yet More Games

Although I don’t see myself as a game designer, my successes during this time with games encouraged me to make three more games for another event a month after the Explorey project.

These three were plenty of fun, with essentially all the action concentrated on “Spin the Knife” where you use a prop knife to pretend-stab friends and act out the brutal attack. It’s fun!

I think I like games because I can run them with friends and have fun, or they can run themselves, once you’ve had enough people come through and learn the rules. Ideally, I’m creating structures that draw in existing energies, get people to act as stranger (and more interesting) versions of themselves, and provide engaging and meaningful experiences, with a minimum requirement on my effort in the moment.


Collaboration has been really rewarding during this time. We have a great group going with lots of ideas, energy, and ability to execute! Generally, I end up frustrated when I feel like I’m babysitting hipsters to make them feel cool, without doing much of the work to accomplish what they so readily take credit for implicitly. With strong collaborators, this is much less of a problem. Even our bit players are pretty strong, these days, which is great. Working with a team ultimately amplifies my effort tremendously, so it’s just about bypassing the psychological barrier of “fuck this shit” to keep the beast at work.

I enjoy that the Bad Parenting work was so creepy and negative, while the Explorey work was so positive and idealistic! Both were childish, but I’m still happy in that register because it makes accessible content that encourages playful interaction. If the Explorey Scouts had instead been insurance adjusters, I think we could get some interaction, but we’d have a longer path to enthusiastic fun.

Overall, I clearly put most of my efforts into art that went out to festivals. Work for my home offers diminishing returns, as it gets more dialed in, there’s less need for big changes.

I think this is the first year I started working consistently with grant money, getting free tickets to events, and helping to deliver the same to collaborators. I feel very concerned about the greed and entitlement that easily come with this process, but I also am sympathetic to the management perspective that the event needs good content and has budget to get it. Art like mine is relatively affordable and I am, in particular, a good investment, though this is generally hard for me to communicate to strangers. Part of this is that we now have several people who are capable of doing the administrative work (largely thanks to Burning Man theme camp experience), so we can manage the paperwork to get money to cover most of our art costs. Also, by chaining together grants from one festival after another, we can splurge on art materials occasionally, which helps for things like a large wooden cube to play in.