Stories of Fire
Series Part II:
acrylic collage, 17in x 20in, 2023
Fire depends on the fuels that feed it. Together with topography and weather, fuels determine a wildfire’s behavior: where it burns, how quickly it spreads, how hot it gets. Fire managers use the term “fuel loading” to categorize the amounts and types of vegetative fuels in a given area. But whether dry grasses, shrubs, dense stands of conifers or logging slash, the accumulation of fuels on the landscape reflects both the ecological processes and the cultural and social imperatives that shape land management. Fire suppression and industrialized land use, structural racial and economic disparities, residential development, roads and recreation, the support or hindrance of ecological stewardship and Indigenous fire sovereignty: all these “fuels” load onto the landscape as uneven densities, distributions and renewals.
As the second part of the Stories of Fire online exhibition series, FUEL LOADING showcases creative works that reckon with the accumulations of fuels in the Pacific Northwest and surrounding regions. These works engage a broad conception of fuel loading to measure the weights, densities and arrangements of fuels across ecological, social and material landscapes. They celebrate the dynamic potential of fire, while also pressing on the build-ups, sparks and residues that contribute to flammability. They attend to the fuels themselves and ask how fire and justice converge.
“The whole earth is fuel-loaded; there is nowhere apart and smoke drifts easily across borders...”
Amiko Matsuo + Brad Monsma
ceramic & organic found object,
16in x 4in x 2.5in, 2019
Carved Out with Fire Pit
tree: Varnished watercolor on torn paper mounted on shaped Gatorboard with wood hanging cradle.
fire pit: black paper, rocks, spray-painted gas pump handle, empty propane tank, coal, insulator, corn cobs, 2022
barbed wire, model airplane, model semi-truck and model oil tanker railroad car added 2023.