Kate Lund is originally from the small town of Challis, located in Central Idaho. She received a BFA from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington and earned an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Montana. During her time as a student, Kate spent eight summers working as a wildland firefighter with the Forest Service. Through this job she spent a great deal of time immersed in the outdoors and traveling through obscure towns in the rural western United States. Today, Kate does not spend her summers on the fireline, but she still finds inspiration in the outdoors be it gardening, swimming, or hiking. Kate is currently an artist and teacher; she teaches high school and college level art classes at Wallace Jr/Sr High School. Kate exhibits her work locally and regionally. In 2018 she was part of a three person exhibition, Three Generations, at the SFCC Fine Art Gallery. In November of 2019, Kate held a solo exhibition at the Cawein Gallery at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.
featured artwork in Ground Truths
"Are You Sure We are Going the Right Way?" cattle marker and graphite on panel, 3ft x 4ft, 2016
"Downdraft" Installation View left: "Downdraft," graphite and cattle marker on paper, right: "Build Up," 2016
"Downdraft" 5ft x 23ft, graphite and cattle marker on paper
"Microburst" wire fencing, rip-stop nylon, flannel, deer fencing, tent poles, 9ft x 9ft x4ft, 2016 photo credit: Sarah Moore
"Microburst" (detail) photo credit: Sarah Moore
I believe the general public has a romanticized idea of what wildland firefighters actually do, thinking that people (firefighters) can always overcome the challenges and complexities that fire brings. There are many instances that arise such as terrain, weather, and fuel loading that make it impossible to stop a fire even if it is with a helicopter or a retardant drop from the biggest air tanker there is.
My ground truth is that as a firefighter I often felt conflicted: conflicted about whether or not I could actually handle the job, conflicted about whether we were helping or harming the environment, conflicted about when to feel distressed, and conflicted about when to take a deep breath and enjoy the beauty of the landscape. The artworks in this exhibition share this internal and external turmoil.
The body of work featured in Ground Truths is rooted in appreciation for the quietude within the landscape interrupted by a sense of urgency and distress, discovered after spending eight summers as a wildland firefighter. I used firefighting to fuel my artistic practice by collecting images, objects, and sensations over the course of each summer in the landscape. The renderings, gestural drawings, and sculptural work are the result of allowing my studio process to mimic my analytical decision making and sensory observation as a wildland firefighter.
In Microburst, I gathered the expired and cast-off tents and outdoor equipment of firefighting and created a form that is reminiscent of the way wind moves during a microburst weather event—short, sharp bursts of air strong enough to mow down 200 foot-tall trees in a matter of seconds.
In Downdraft, I used aggressive marks and a pink color-palette to create a psychological awareness of urgency in response to stimuli in the natural environment such as logs rolling down the hill at you and expanding smoke columns. These urgent movements in drawing are balanced with quietude created through rendering, which I relate to the time spent observing swaying trees and the formation of cumulonimbus clouds.
featured artwork in Fuel Loading
"Brush Fit," rip-stop nylon, wool, flannel, fleece, 2023
details of "Brush Fit"
This body of work is based in an appreciation for the quietude within the landscape interrupted by a sense of urgency and distress. I discovered this awareness after spending eight summers as a wildland firefighter. As an artist, I used firefighting to fuel my practice by collecting images, objects, and sensations over the course of each summer in the landscape. The renderings, gestural drawings, and sculptural work are the result of allowing my studio process to
mimic my analytical decision making and sensory observation as a wildland firefighter.
Brush Fit was inspired by an experience I had while working on a small wildland fire on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. The fire was named the Delta fire, it was less than half an acre and I was the incident commander in charge of managing the crew and the fire itself. We completed the hand line around the fire the first day and needed to get water to the fire next. With remote, small fires, bladder bags are the typical way to get water into a fire. A bladder bag is essentially a backpack that holds water; when full it's about 50 pounds. The bladder bag is not exactly an exquisite design; it leaks and sloshes around on your back, on top of your fire pack. Luckily I had a crew with a positive attitude. We loaded up our gear, saws, fuel, and the bladder bags, and started on our hike. The hike wasn’t terribly long or steep, which should have made the trek doable. To our dismay, the area we were working was unforgiving in that is was completely overgrown with brush and downed trees. If you were watching us hike from above, you would have seen us all split ways in an effort to find easier paths, quickly discovering that there is no good way to get through the nasty thicket we were up against. I could feel the brushfit building inside of me when my pack and bladder bag kept getting caught on the low branches. A brushfit is when you succumb to the challenges of walking in an overgrown forest and throw a temper tantrum. I remember stopping, grabbing a hold of a tree so that I didn’t roll down the hill, and thinking, What am I doing here? Why do I do this to myself? Why are we even putting this fire out when this whole hillside needs to burn anyway? I caught my breath, and hoofed the rest of the way to fire to get the crew started for the day.
In Brush Fit, I use wool, flannel and contemporary outdoor materials to signify a human relationship that is familiar with the natural world. This material references the gear that assists backpackers, hunters, and bikers alike in being outdoors. Initially, the materials are arranged in a neat, clean manner to reference the idealizations and expectations that are often projected onto the landscape. The sculpture progresses into a wrangled mass of shredded material in order to show the trepidation and frustration that sometimes accompany an interaction with nature.
more from Kate's perspective
This image illuminates some of the visual qualities in Kate’s work, particularly in Are You Sure We are Going the Right Way. Kate is the small figure in the center; her team was holding the line as the fire approached, but it overran their line, so they had to pull out and try again.
Here is a rare photo of Kate in her fire gear. She is standing next to her husband; the two of them were on day 14 of a two week fire assignment in Wyoming. They met in 2009 while working together on the fire crew.
This image is one of Kate’s favorite representing the landscape where she lives in Silverton, outside of Wallace, Idaho. It was taken a few summers ago, when Kate took an evening hike to one of her favorite lakes, which happens to be just a fifteen minute drive from her house.
Spending summers on the fireline meant spending time in places where it was unusual to see water. We are lucky in the Pacific Northwest to be surrounded by bodies of water. Kate took this photo on Lake Pend Oreille in mid-August, Summer 2023.
Kate also engages with the landscape by maintaining a backyard garden. She sees it as an extension of her studio practice and an important part of her daily life.