As a team member of Elestial Sound we had the opportunity to create a custom stage for a truly unique festival held in May at Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti. Soleri, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, produced award-winning works as an arcologist. A 3-year long collaboration between the Soleri Foundation and Zach Tetreault's (of Hundred Waters) hardworking team brought FORM, an event that "unites creators through experiences that inspire."
The Arcosanti aesthetics are otherworldly. It was clear that what was needed for FORM would need to be cohesive to the environment. Months were spent dyeing, batiking, cutting, sewing, and assembling the canvas pieces alone. Custom lighting and stage frames were created by Elestial as well. What came together was a vibrant, mercurial stage that successfully weaved itself into the elements of Arizona desert.
The work that went into the stage was to a point heart-breaking. The amount of manpower Elestial members poured out to create this unique gem was soon humbled once the stage was nestled into the desert. The high desert winds were sharp. The sound of rips moving slowly up the canvas as the days went on was unnerving.
The stage was meant to host the late night acts of FORM, and that it did. The Canyon stage became a beacon for all creatures of the night after 1:30 am. The pilgrimage of festival goers, from the steps of Arcosanti down to the belly of the valley, looked as though a fleet of fireflies had descended upon the desert. They would arrive like clockwork in the night. Surrounding the stage, they would dance and stumble upon it's sights and sounds, oftentimes not leaving till dawn. In the light of day, the wear and tear was apparent in the trampled earth surrounding the stage's foundation.
The result was a beautiful symbiosis of creativity and environment. After months of hard work in the heavy humid heat of Florida, to the weeks in the harsh winds and sun of the high-plateau, validation came from positive feedback. Articles by the New York Times, Thump, The Fader, and others, would feature sights of Elestial Sound's Canyon stage. Spirits soared higher for every picture posted of the Canyon stage. As a small art cooperative out of Florida, this momentum was huge and re-energizing.
Being able to witness the stage come to fruition and gain recognition on a national level was the proudest moments I had as an Elestial member. Realizing the power behind a small, non-funded, truly creative and passionate group was humbling. A lesson to myself to never underestimate how the strength in small groups can become amplified over time.
*All photos linked to their source