by Katrina Kuntz
Trevor Corneliusen, who chained and padlocked his ankles together for a self-portrait, hopped 12 hours across the Mojave Desert to reach help after he lost the key and couldn’t open the iron restraints. The painter and violinist regularly journeys into the region, sets up camp in abandoned mines, and meditates there for weeks at a time. The morning of January 3, Corneliusen tightly wrapped a foot and a half of chain around his bare ankles and fastened them with a Master Lock padlock before sitting down to sketch the restraints. Upon finishing the drawing, he realized the key was missing.
With a walking stick and his sketch, Corneliusen shuffled five miles across rocky and sandy terrain to a gas station in Baker, California, where he called the authorities. The fire department arrived with bolt cutters to free the shackled artist. “It’s funny-sad,” his mother, Marie Corneliusen, told the LA Times, “because he really could have gotten hurt. But it’s not hard to believe. He can be very absent-minded.”
And, the drawing? “He brought it down with him,” San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Ford reported to the AP Press. “It was a pretty good depiction of how a chain would look wrapped around your legs.”
Illustration by Robyn Coffey