Calgarians flocked to Fort Calgary the weekend of Sept. 16, 2017 to bask in the glow of the Serpent Mother, a 30-foot interactive flame-spitting sculpture as a part of the science and art festival, Beakerhead.
The Serpent Mother was created by The Flaming Lotus Girls, a San Francisco, Calif. based and volunteer-run art and construction collective.
“Beakerhead was very kind to us, and they gave us money to fix the Serpent Mother. They really wanted this to go with their snakes and ladders theme,” said Caroline “Mills” Miller, a certified “fire hussy” and “kitten wrangler” that has been working with the Flaming Lotus Girls since 2004.
Miller described herself as being a “total groupie,” since the group’s inception in 2004.
The Flaming Lotus Girls is dedicated to turning the fiery dreams of those yearning to delve into science, metal-work and pyrotechnics into a reality by taking all-comers, not just women, and teaching people to weld and do metal-work.
Additionally, the Flaming Lotus Girls teach all the work that goes into the plumbing and inner-workings of the different pyrotechnic sculptures and fire effects that they do.
“We empower people who don’t normally get their hands on metal-working, … it takes a great man to be a Flaming Lotus Girl,” said Miller.
The group makes all of its sculptures fully interactive. Anyone can control the flames that shoot from the spine of the Serpent Mother, for example.
“Because that takes down the barrier between the artist and the sculpture, people ask questions, and then they go away and make more art,” said Miller. “So more art is good.”
Flaming Lotus Girls has sparked an interest in a group here in Calgary according to Miller. The Blazing Lily Gals take a similar approach to that of the Flaming Lotus Girls.
“We’ve inspired a whole other group, and that’s exactly what we’re about,” said Miller.
According to Miller there’s approximately 200 to 300 members of the Flaming Lotus Girls but it’s difficult to keep track because once one has helped out once with the group, they’re considered a Flaming Lotus Girl forever.
“It’s kind of like the mafia,” said Miller.
Miller said that the Flaming Lotus Girls’ policy is one of “do-ocracy,” so that if one shows up to Flaming Lotus Girls meetings regularly in San Francisco and have the drive to turn an idea they have into a reality and stay committed to it, then the rest of the group will help out.
She also said that as long as ideas are tangible and can be built for around $100,000, an average price for a Flaming Lotus Girls sculpture, then they are plausible in the Flaming Lotus Girls’ book.
“It has to be something real, it has to fit in a shipping container, and it has to be something that we can foresee building and foresee actually doing,” said Miller.
Miller said the group was able to fix up the inner-workings of the Serpent Mother to bring the beast back to life for Beakerhead. Its last appearance was at 2015’s Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nev.
Beakerhead wanted the sculpture to tie into 2017’s Beakerhead’s theme of snakes and ladders.
As for what comes next, Miller said that the Serpent Mother will slither back into its 40-foot shipping container and back to Vallejo, Calif. in the San Francisco Bay Area.
That’s all. Calgary Alta. science and entertainment festival Beakerhead concluded at Fort Calgary in Calgary, Alta. on the night of Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 with the pictured closing of the Serpent Mother’s egg. The Serpent Mother was one of the most notable attractions at this year’s festival was the Serpent Mother, a giant mechanical-fire-spitting snake by the Las Vegas, Nev. based art and science collective The Flaming Lotus Girls. On this night, a wedding between two very fond Flaming Lotus Girls fans took place beneath the Serpent Mother (Photo by Ruwald de Fortier/The Press)