On Fire

The climate crisis continues on with most leaders doing little to adjust in an effort to protect the earth. As an artist, I’ve made a number of pieces addressing climate change and pictured is a recent one. The original image came from an Atlantic magazine article about fires on the West Coast. The speed and devastation of those fires left so many people with ash and char as their only belongings.

In 2005 there were fires in San Diego that caused our family to temporarily evacuate. The distress and fear the situation caused is unforgettable. Imagining losing every possession, every photograph, decades worth of art creations was very upsetting. I feel so sorry for those families that have endured that kind of loss. Philosophers throughout the ages have cautioned us not to value material objects too much since life itself is the most precious gift. When your whole world burns to the ground, I’m not going to fault anyone for feeling extraordinary grief.

“On Fire” has as its subject those fires. In deciding to use white paint, I considered making the painting appear to be on fire by using reds, oranges, and other warm colors. I thought using the colors of fire seemed rather trite. White paint is in keeping with my other works that draw on news media and their reference to minimalist works. White paint also connotes an emptiness that may be experienced by such a profound loss. There are accents of warm colors provided by tulle, beads and colored pencil.

As an artist, bringing my attention to vital issues of our time remains one inspiration to my work. There is a balance that’s not easy to achieve between creating topical work that moves beyond the obvious interpretations and creating one that simply preaches to the choir.