May 2, 2019
Nikolas Schiller, 202-643-3878


Catharsis on the Mall to Hold 5th Annual Free Healing Vigil May 3-5
Art Theme “Our Mothership” Invites Visiting Public to Connect with the Movement for a Liveable Earth

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Catharsis on the Mall, a public, First Amendment vigil designed to create an artistic space for healing and transformation, is taking place this weekend, May 3-5. Now in its fifth year, the vigil has moved to warmer weather after being held previously during Veterans Day weekend and will fill most of the northeast Washington Monument grounds of the National Mall with a vibrant landscape of art and expression. Free live music, art exhibits, workshops, healing modalities, and other interactive programming for all ages, backgrounds, and abilities is scheduled from noon Friday, May 3, through noon Sunday, May 5, near 1600 Constitution Avenue, across from the National Museum of African American History & Culture. The vigil is anchored by the intentional burning of artistic sculptures created by local artists for this purpose on Friday night and Saturday night, including A Well Rooted Woman by Quest Skinner and the “Temple Burn” by Michael Verdon. There will also be a parade around the Mall Sunday morning that passes in front of the White House and the Capitol Building. This year, art is coming to Catharsis from as far away as Mexico City, as the vigil welcomes Ichiro Sacred Beings by Marianela Fuentes Guardiola, a life-size replica of a Velafrons dinosaur fossil covered with indigenous Mexican multicolored bead art from the Huichol people. The piece will be displayed adjacent to a curated space by Dia de Los Muertos, a local Latinx collective who organizes the annual festival to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos, a traditional Mexican holiday in November which highlights the unification of family and community through the celebration of life.

Since 2015, each year the organizers select a theme to guide the vigil in its mission of healing and social change through art, celebration, and community. In its inaugural year, Catharsis focused on healing from the War on Drugs, with the following year addressing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with the theme “Our Journey Home.” In 2017, the group gained national attention with plans to install R-Evolution, a 45-foot figure sculpture of a woman by artist Marco Cochrane, as the centerpiece for the vigil which was themed “Nurturing the Heart,” although the piece didn’t end up at the vigil. Last year, Catharsis invited participants to reflect on the reality of the “American Dream” as a way to begin peaceful reconciliation and create a culture of abundance, communion, connection, transformation, and integration. This year, the Catharsis community is holding its vigil with the art theme of “Our Mothership” in collaboration with various local, national and international creative groups to highlight the interconnectedness of all life and our ability to impact the greater health and healing of both the Earth and each other. One of the creative experiences the public is invited to participate in is “Primordial Soap,” where water awareness and education on biodegradable personal hygiene without petrochemicals will be featured. Participants are encouraged to bring a towel and a bathing suit or change of clothes if they would like to engage with “Primordial Soap” which will be active during the day until 5:30 pm on Friday and Saturday.

Catharsis is inspired by the 10 Principles of Burning Man and is co-created by dozens of core volunteers, artists, and activists; and thousands of participants. It is one of the only events ever permitted to burn a structure on the National Mall and allow amplified music for 24 hours, providing the opportunity for the public to engage in cathartic dance from sunset to sunrise. General information for Catharsis on the Mall 2019: Our MotherShip, including directions, a full schedule, a site map, and descriptions of the art installations and theme camps, is available at


Media are encouraged to RSVP by emailing to attend a curated tour of the Catharsis on the Mall at 5:00 pm on Friday, May 3, meeting at “Primordial Soap” (see description in “Featured Highlights” below). Art tour to begin at 5:45 pm.

For 2019 General Information and Directions:

For the 2019 Site Map:

For the 2019 Full Schedule:

For descriptions of 2019 Theme Camps:

For the descriptions of 2019 Art Installations:

For photos, videos, and interview requests of Catharsis on the Mall organizers, artists, and its partners, please contact: Nikolas Schiller, 202-643-3878 or email

Please follow Catharsis on the Mall on social media: Facebook @catharsisonthemall – Twitter @catharsisDC – Instagram @catharsisonthemall

Catharsis on the Mall 2019: Our MotherShip – Featured Highlights

Opening & Closing Ceremonies, led by members of the Piscataway
Times: Opening Ceremony at noon on Friday, May 3; Closing Ceremony at noon on Sunday, May 5


Primordial Soap: Healthy Living Perfoamance [sic] by the Foamy Homies
Times: Friday, May 3, 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm; Saturday, May 4, 11:30 am – 5:30 pm
Description: Come prepared to be cleansed of your past relationships with petrochemicals on your heavenly self to be renewed in conscious connection and understanding of how fun it is to wash yourself without causing harm to our ecosystem for we are all connected here on our MotherShip. We are the Primordial Soap!
*Participants are encouraged to bring a towel, and a bathing suit or change of clothes. As there will be dancing, please also consider bringing drinking water.


Friday Evening Effigy Burn: A Well Rooted Woman by Quest Skinner, followed by Fire Procession & Performance
Time: Friday, May 3, 9:00 pm – 12:00 am
Description: The piece will be ceremonially set ablaze on site and followed by a procession and fire flow art performances.

Artist Quote: “A well rooted woman is the crown of all mothers,” says Quest Skinner, a DC-based mixed-media artist, teacher, and community activist whose art was featured recently at Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center. “This piece was created in the effort to reverse the stereotype that can fall on great women and balance the ideal of our nurturing assets and divine feminity, giving us the space and respect as women, as complete vessels,” “This vessel was designed out of birch, cedar, lavender, eucalyptus, sage, cinnamon, clove, and orange peels to spark a cleansing of the mall and the community. Hopefully, this vessel will be able to carry the spirit and aroma of all the best parts of being feminine.”


Saturday Evening Chapel of Chimes Temple Burn and Fire Ceremony
Time: Saturday, May 4, 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Description: A sacred structure that anchors Catharsis on the Mall is the “Temple,” which is designed and led by Michael Verdon, a U.S. Veteran and co-founder of Catharsis on the Mall. The Temple is a sacred sanctuary dedicated to community, reflection, and healing. The Temple for Catharsis 2019 is the Chapel of Chimes, which is adorned with glass, fire, and sound. As you enter with your feet upon the ground, you feel the openness to the sky above. You are part of a fractal system in the universe. The altar has a hidden galaxy and is made of recycled materials. It will be burned with all of its messages of grief and hope on Saturday night.


Artist Quote: “Everyone is invited to write their stories of loss, grief, remembrance, and hope without judgment or fear,” says Verdon. “The structure holds these stories until we transform the Temple into ash with a cleansing fire. This experience will give way to forgiveness, moving forward, and healing together.”


March for Our MotherShip
Sunday, May 5, 7:00 am – 9:00 am
Description: An annual Catharsis tradition! Participants are invited to dance during this early morning march around the White House, to the Capitol, and back to the Mall. This year will be led with musical programming by the Disco Tank.


Ichiro Sacred Beings by Marianela Fuentes y Gus Cardenas
Ichiro Sacred Beings is a full-scale replica of a Velafrons Coahuilensis dinosaur fossil discovered in Northern Mexico, covered in multicolored “chaquira” beads in collaboration with the Huichol (Wixárika) people native to the area where the fossil was discovered. Along with love and creativity, Ichiro Sacred Beings was made through rituals and visions of sacred symbols as an altar of ancient times to connect with our ancestors and our inner selves as the artists want people all around the world to have this experience.


Patterns by Emma Hardy
This piece directly relates to the Catharsis mission by inviting interactive engagement with the audience that will specifically bring focus to the interconnectedness of all beings and our resulting cumulative impact. The piece is an opportunity to call attention to the multiple layers of diversity both in reference to the populace as well as the Earth itself.


Dia de Los Muertos “Land of the Remembered”
Come out and share in the true meaning and traditions of the Dia de los Muertos holiday on the National Mall at the Dia de Los Muertos – “Land of the Remembered” Theme Camp. Bring pictures, belongings, and the favorite foods of your loved ones to lay on one of the vibrantly-decorated altars that will be constructed on location. This camp will be geared towards guests of all ages and backgrounds.


FREE DC Community Liberty Pole
DCMJ, the group that led Initiative 71 and continue to fight for equal rights for cannabis users, growers, and their families in Washington, DC, will host a gathering place for intellectual exchange and explore and open platform for people to give an oral history of DC.


Meso Creso Truck DJ Booth, curated by Meso Creso
Built from a 1967 Mack semi-truck, the Meso Creso Truck DJ Booth is a fully utilitarian art installation. It is inspired by the highly decorated multiple forms of public and commercial transportation from around the world – from Pakistan to India, from Colombia to Haiti. The DJ booth truck represents Meso Creso’s diverse American, yet very immigrant, identity and sound. Meso Creso is a Washington DC-based, cross-cultural arts collective that cultivates creativity without boundaries. Named for Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent – often considered the cradle of civilization – Meso Creso fuses the whimsy of the burner culture with DC’s cultural diversity and social consciousness. We are known for our roving lounge, highly crafted art installations, joyful whistles and hand claps, and a DJ lineup that represents the rich cultural mix of our global community.


Lotus Womb Performance Pod, curated by The Omi Collective
The Lotus Womb Performance Pod, by The Omi Collective, is a traveling, artfully activated space to inspire co-creation, community participation, and performances embodying love. The lotus sits on a seven-foot circular base with eight surrounding petals, each one hand painted and embellished by womxn/femme/non-binary artists from the DMV area whose vision is for a colorful future. Participants can experience a rebirth inside the lotus womb reflecting on the question: How do we bloom and collectively emerge out of the mud?


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