Process: Cosmic Puzzle Fort with cARTel

Last weekend, I created a “Cosmic Puzzle Fort” for the cARTel (Collaborative Arts LA) play + party called “Am I Grown Up” at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Downtown LA/Echo Park.  The play ran from September 30, 2016 – October 2, 2016.

When I saw the opportunity to create an interactive, childhood/nostalgia, piece for this project, I knew I had to send in a proposal.  Considering the brilliant ideas Eleanore Kody, Art Director and quick-thinking creative wonder, sent out, I thought about creating an secret black light play space with a glowing puzzle.

This was my first puzzle, so I had to get over some logic road blocks.  I thought I would make a Tetris puzzle glow.  All I would have to do was put the puzzle together and then emphasize the colors with black light ink.

I bought a 500 piece puzzle and worked on piecing it together with my mom for an hour.  I had a good time, but it was daunting.  I went back to Toys ‘R’ Us, [Two times there in one day!  I’ve been to that store maybe 5 times in my life!] and bought a 24 piece puzzle.

500 piece attempt:



I quickly pieced together the 24 piece puzzle which had these cute kids playing in a classroom.  The image was on theme, but I was more interested in the back of the puzzle.  This is my third black light project.  I’m honing my skills and technique.  Once the fluorescent paint pen hit the cardboard puzzle back, I knew color blending was out.  (I was also a bit traumatized from the blends of the Tetris puzzle.)  I decided to work with solid color fills.

I’ve learned black is a key element for black light color.  It makes the glow of the bright paint more saturated, clear, concentrated.

The art:

I traced my hands, thinking about the clay imprints I had made with them when my hands were little kid hands.  They were  also the most convenient source at the time.  This idea really worked out!  Puzzles have a lot to do with hands!  People would mirror the fragmented image, their hands hovering over the pieces as they figure out how to put it all together.

The pink fingernails keep a potentially werewolf vibe as a metaphysical human element.  The green leaves grow from below, and are both contained in and unconstrained by the fingers.

lorna alkana art cosmic puzzle fort source image


There’s a lot going on here.  I read a few different stories in the image.


I painted the other side of the puzzle, as well.  Two puzzles in one!  I liked the characters depicted in the puzzle, but couldn’t reconcile their placement (who was in the front and who was in the back).  I obfuscated that design and added ambiguity to genders, shapes, and shades by focusing on how the silhouettes of the characters interact with the space around them.  I made the figures float in a blue sea.



The fort:

The first night of the show gave me a lot of ideas!  I had a better grip on how I could construct the fort in that space.  I also got to thinking about my own childhood and thought about the black lights at Cosmic Bowling!   The “Cosmic Puzzle Fort” was in full swing.

I strung two wires from room divider.  One attached to a chair and the other to a mic stand, both standing on an adjacent table.  Next: puzzle, black lights, glow sticks, source images, inviting signage…fun!  I used the kaleidoscope tarp from the Beating Lights event, too!




It was really cool to hear people exclaim genuine “Wooooah” once they entered the fort.  Eleanore’s hand painted stickers really made the space more exciting!  Added whimsy and color!


The event:

The play, “Am I Grown Up?” takes the audience through engaging monologues from the ensemble cast, a team who wrote and collaborated on their performances.  I laughed a lot, cried a bit (really touching at the denouement) and shook a [provided] pom pom with glee (not in that order).  Each individual’s narrative travels, with varying depths, through a chronology of naivety, crisis, growth, celebration, acceptance, empowerment, loss.  Literal “V” cards in hands at times.

The audience began the event with crayons and “Fun Dip” booze, goldfish crackers and chocolate eyeballs.  Intermission welcomed everyone with ice-cream cups, the kind with small wooden sticks for spoons.  People left the theater with fortune cookies and zines.

The cast and crew:
Negin Singh (Director/Curator), Lisa Bierman (Director/Curator), Jack De Sena, Kit Steinkellner, Ashley Opstad, Jordan Riggs, Omid Singh, Phil Daddario, Laura Cheek

“Adult Punch” by Robin Chopra’s concept, House of Punch. Award winning mixologist from Corazon Y Miel, recently won Espolon Tequila’s cocktail fight for the west coast.

Costume Collaboration with Infinite Expressions

Live Score by Alex Pfender of yOya

The venue: This was my first time at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater.  It was much anticipated, since I pass by it frequently on my way to/from Echo Park/Downtown LA.  It did not disappoint:

Many thanks to Eleanore Kody and cARTel for having me and supporting and bringing together artists!

You Can Find Me…

Facebook: @LornaAlkanaArt and @LAWordSalon and @AffectComic
Twitter: @LornaPhone and @LAWordSalon
Instagram: @Lornaphone and @LAWordSalon
Youtube: Lorna Alkana

I update my Exhibition Page with events and galleries Lorna Alkana Art is featured in.
Check out the Disclosure Page to see a chronological evolution of my blog and art.

I post twice a week in two sorts of ways:  I share new art/discussions about the process of works in progress, and I post segments with Comic Lorna in my audiobio comic series called, Affect.

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