Threatened: Fleeing the Wild Fires
On October 9, 2017, early morning wildfires, propelled by 85 mph winds, swept across several counties in the North Bay. When I awoke at 7AM to no electricity, I had no idea that there were fires spreading and with alarming rapidity. Entire nearby communities in Santa Rosa were burning. It was sunny and clear out my front door but when I looked up behind my house, I could see the ominous smoke cloud above Trione-Annadel State Park. The fire was heading toward our community of Oakmont Village. My husband Ken and I fled with very few belongings but grabbed our hard drives and cell phones and picked up a neighbor who was unable to evacuate on her own. The ensuing nine days were filled with varying realities from horror at the massive devastation to facing that we might not have a home to return to. Most of my recent art is archived on my hard drive. And as an artist, I just keep making stuff. Without a studio during my evacuation, I began to make on-site art. These pieces became my spontaneous response to the fires—a photo journal that I recorded with my iPhone. There was enormous freedom in embracing ephemeral images when my physical art and possessions could be ash. In most instances, I look for personal and anthropomorphic images, sometimes altering them, sometimes gathering the nearby detritus to create something that emerges organically out of the environment. Fortunately, we returned safely home where I continue to make site art and photograph it. This experience continues to inform my art.