Swig Miller, a self-taught artist based in Santa Monica, CA, is best known for his work on mystical animal-inspired masks made usually of leather. However, Akle’ the dragon is his most massive work to date – we’re talking 50 feet.

Putting a Concept into Reality

“Akle’ started as a dream three years ago, ‘I want to create a dragon,’” Swig recalls. “I thought while receiving some energy work.  However at the time the idea of creating a life sized dragon was daunting to me, three years and many projects later I am more than ready.”

He then went on about deciding on which materials to use, how it will look, and so on. “After weeks of thought it was decided that she’d be sitting majestically like a benevolent queen looking out over her lands,” he describes. “To give her this sense of majesty it was decided that she should be sitting upon a mountain top, or at least a large boulder.”

As such, Burning Man is probably the closest thing to what Swig imagined would be the perfect setting to where Akle’ should be. Using rebar (skeleton), foam (encasing), cement (exterior), and other materials, the massive dragon is nearly complete. Swig reveals, “…we are now at the stage where the armature is about 80% done, Akle’s body is done, as is her head, her tail is but an outline and 2 out of 3 boulders are in some stage of completion.”

What is left now would be figuring out the lighting, surrounding fire dance performance, and well, how to transport Anke’ – the entire project costing around $5,000. As such Swig started a pledging campaign on Kickstarter. Purely crowdfunded, the project will be brought to life really soon as the campaign ends on the 7th of May.

Why a Dragon?

As previously mentioned, Swig is into making masks and he wants to inspire people with what he does – something we at TAE particularly support. This time he wants to go big or go home. “It is my belief that the purpose of art is to share it with the world, hopefully this will bring up something with those who experience it; my biggest hope is that it will inspire others,” says Miller.

He had a different proposition for Burning Man originally, but that was rejected. The dragon was the next, instant, and obvious choice – and the name for the dragon had a significant meaning as well. His elderly dog Elka became sick just shortly after the then-unnamed dragon installation project started.

“I was thinking it was an interesting choice, as dog spelled backwards is god, Elka spelled backwards is Akle’.  So in a sense, Akle’ is a small piece of god, which I find interesting because I’ve come to the belief that I see dragons as some people may see angels, as ambassadors to the spirit realm,” he says.

It became clear to Swig that this project would become more than just an art installation – it is a memorial to Elka and the unconditional love that she shared with him throughout the many years.

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Check the Kickstarter page to see what is going on – at time of writing, the $5,000 goal has already been reached through 23 different backers.

You can also like his Facebook page or follow his Instagram for more information.

Thanks for reading!