WNC Graduate’s Book Sculptures Headed to the Playa

Aug 16, 2023

WNC grad Debbie Lambin and her husband, David, has been invited to present “The Octagon” during the Burning Man Festival Aug. 27 through Sept. 4.

WNC grad Debbie Lambin and her husband, David, has been invited to present “The Octagon” during the Burning Man Festival Aug. 27 through Sept. 4.

Western Nevada College graduate Debbie Lambin and her well-known book sculptures are bound for the playa.

That’s right, Black Rock City Honoraria has selected “The Octagon,” a creation of Debbie and her husband, David. It will be among 75 artworks that will be featured during the annual Burning Man Festival on Aug. 27-Sept. 4 in the Black Rock Desert.

The Lambins’ 10-foot-tall by 40-foot-wide sculpture is composed of more than unwanted books transformed into art. The Octagon also includes wood, hemp, braided ropes, paper and solar-powered lights. Debbie will make as many as 700 “My Thousand Words” book sculptures to adorn the ropes crisscrossing the sculpture.

The couple wants their sculpture to advocate unity.

“If we all come together for a cause, a purpose and reason, anything is possible,” Debbie said. “My father was one that was a believer that fought to make a difference. I think that when people look at the sculpture, they will hopefully see each sculpture as a group of people, coming together to make a difference as one LARGE voice. I believe it is a way of sticking together.”

The family has attended the Burning Man Festival previously and was inspired by it.

“When we went to Burning Man together as a family, David was most inspired to create something beautiful for the playa,” she said. “When we learned about how the government was planning on just acting upon a concept of placing a geothermal plant on the Black Rock Desert, he felt compelled to help stand up for the residents in Gerlach and Burning Man and started figuring out how to speak up for them.” 

David and Debbie know how dusty it can get in the Black Rock Desert and are prepared to keep their sculpture functioning throughout the festival.

The Octagon lights“We will be coming around to dust the sculptures off and clean the lights, solar panels often, but I do see them getting full of playa dust as it adds dimension to the art. The entire concept is people coming together, getting dirty and striving to work hard together all for a goal, a mission, unity …,” she said.

In 2015, Debbie and her daughter, Rachael, created “My Thousand Words,” from the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. In their case, the Lambins substituted sculptures for pictures. Debbie took unwanted books and folded them in a variety of shapes and decided to complement them with paper sculptures. This unique form of art soon developed into a popular business that is still thriving today.

“My Thousand Words book sculptures started as a way of honoring a beloved book that has been loved so much; it was a way to retell the book's story by making a memorable scene from the pages of the book,” Debbie said.

Debbie and her three children, Rachael, John-Henry and Jeff, graduated from WNC together in 2012. Debbie graduated with Associate of Applied Science degrees in Graphic Information Systems and Graphic Communications.

As a WNC grad and artist, Debbie has some advice for future artists of the college.

“Never ever listen to anyone telling you not to do something that you have a dream or desire to do,” Debbie said. “Art is a form of expression that evokes emotion and that emotion is so valuable to so many. Go and achieve, Do, Make, Create, Inspire.  

“Bottom line is to focus on your art, especially if it makes you happy or satisfies your need to feel (a sense of) accomplishment. Try not to focus on the commission or the sales, which can suck the life out of your work… Focus on your inspiration and satisfying your need to create something.”

For those interested in having a book sculpture made, go to mythousandwords.com and complete a contact form.