My sculpture series “Wildfire Progression” transforms wildfire data to reveal the shape of a wildfire as it grew and changed shape while it was burning. The first in this series shows the Cedar Fire in San Diego, currently the third largest in California’s history. Wildfire is an incidence in nature that is a necessary process for a healthy forest ecosystem, and at the same time is publicly perceived to be harmful destructive from the human perspective. By visualizing a wildfire as a beautiful and evocative form in motion, we can reconsider our position on wildfire and our relationship to our surrounding environment.
So far I have modeled two fire sculptures in clay - the Cedar Fire (images included with this submission) and the Camp Fire from 2018 which burned the town of Paradise, California, and caused terrible air quality all over the Bay Area for several days. I have sourced data for several more recent fires, and the ultimate goal is to have the series cast in bronze so they can be exhibited and shown to the public. (The clay versions are too delicate to exhibit broadly.)
Sculpture is an aesthetic language I use to bridge the gap between reason and emotion. Drawing from history, narrative, emotional affect, and the senses, my artwork synthesizes scientific research from information into knowledge through an intently subjective human experience. I have often worked in partnership with scientific organizations in developing the data concept for an artwork, and in this case have been interfacing with CalFire to source the fire progression GIS data.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (September 2019)