These paintings are my way of processing the damage and showcasing the resilience of our area. Not only the people but the land as well. After it first happened, it was really tough to handle emotionally. The devastation was hard just to even drive through. I couldn’t imagine being someone who lost everything in the fire. I had the idea to go into the damage zones to face it while it was fresh, but it was entirely too depressing. Also, I had a conversation that made me pause to consider how to approach this subject matter without making it feel exploitative. And I think the best way to do that is to be completely honest with your feelings about it. And how I honestly felt at the time was that I had no good idea to express what the fires meant to me at the time. I had strong emotions, but I hadn’t created the vehicle to express them conceptually in a way that I felt good about.
Recently, with the way the spring is arriving in the area, it serves as a great contrast to the still-burnt land in the county. The grass has regrown and is a lovely green. The mustards are also in full bloom right now. It’s a great contrast to the ruddy colors that the recovering woodlands on the hills now exhibit due to their fire damage. However, these are colors that I’ve never seen before in this area. Some areas look entirely foreign to me because I’ve never seen them so clear cut. Contrasting these amazing colorful grays with the typical bursts of early spring colors makes for a wonderful subject to paint.
These paintings I’m working on now are meant to showcase the beauty of this unique phenomenon. The earth recovers. Our community recovers. It’s a beautiful sight. I will try to show you it through my eyes.