Art exhibit tackles hot topic

“It’s time for us to not just tolerate fire as a necessary evil, but to celebrate it as the crucible that has made Western landscapes and people ruggedly beautiful and unique.”

— Collin Haffey, Fire Ecologist, USGS Jemez Mountain Field Station

Forest Service employees are used to seeing the effects of fire on a forest, they rarely see its mark left on the pristine white walls of an art gallery. To get this new point of view, employees of the Southwestern Region were treated to a special exhibition of Fires of Change being held at 516 Arts in downtown Albuquerque. With a new understanding of how fire is a tool for managing our Southwestern landscapes, eleven artist were chosen to participate in this show and tasked to use this same tool to create pieces that would focus on the social and ecological issues surrounding the rise of wildfires in the West, while finding the beauty that can arise after the flames have died.

To create these pieces, eleven artist spent one week attending a Fire Science Bootcamps on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. While here, they toured burn sites on the Kaibab National Forest and spent time listening to fire managers, ecologist and firefighters discuss the history and potential future of fire on the Colorado Plateau. Artist then returned to their studios and, using an array of media, spent the next year trying to distill these messages into their most impactful forms.

Fires if Change is collaborative project with the Southwest Fire Science Consortium, the Flagstaff Arts Council and Northern Arizona University’s Landscape Conservation Initiative, with additional funding provided by the Joint Fires Sciences Program and the National Endowment for the Arts. This traveling exhibition may be available for booking at a gallery in your area. To arrange such an event, contact the Flagstaff Arts Council.

To view the full Flickr album for this event, click here.

Box and Burn, Bryan David Griffith. Forest Service photo.

Severance, Bryan David Griffith. Forest Service photo.


Broken Equilibrium, Bryan David Griffith. Forest Service photo.

Bang Mirror, Helen Padilla. Forest Service photo.