Jackie Barry is a multidisciplinary artist, forester, and wildland firefighter based in Colorado. They are interested in the integration of the arts and humanities into natural resource management, and how art can increase ecological literacy for communities. They graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2011 with a BFA in Printmaking/Book Arts and are scheduled to graduate from Oregon State University's School of Forestry this spring with a Masters of Natural Resources, focused on Forest Ecosystems and Society. Jackie currently works as a forest ecosystem manager and wildland firefighter in Boulder, Colorado.
"Medio Fire", 35mm film shot on Olympus Stylus Epic, 2020
"Boys in the Truck", 35mm film on Olympus Stylus Epic, 2020
"Cole", 35mm film shot on Olympus Stylus Epic, 2020
This body of work was created over the fire season of 2020, one of the most "prolific" wildfire years in American history. At the time I was a wildland firefighter on the Santa Fe Hotshots, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Throughout the season, I carried a film camera with me and tried to document life on the crew and some of the fire suppression activities. The images were shot in New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
When people think of firefighters, large red engines with ladders and people in bulky fire uniforms come to mind. You see and hear the engines flashing their lights and blaring their sirens throughout towns and communities all over the country. When you ask people what they know about wildland firefighters, most people don't know what to say; they either don't know what the difference is, or don't live in a part of the country that is regularly exposed to wildfire.
The difference between structure firefighters and wildland firefighters is visibility: you don't see us when we work, we aren't in the front-country. When we get a fire call, we load up into our trucks or buggies, make our way to the incident–sometimes days away–and hike miles into the fire over wild, harsh terrain–carrying chainsaws, enough rations and water for the day, emergency shelters, tools, and anything else we might need. We are hardly ever witnessed, and therefore, not celebrated the way that structure firefighters are. In sharing these images, I hope to increase visibility of wildland firefighters and hotshots. I hope that raising awareness around wildfire and wildland firefighters will increase support for better wages for wildland firefighters and increase ecological literacy regarding forests and the wildland urban interface.
I began my work as a wildland firefighter in Twisp, Washington in 2018; my love for the PNW and its relationship to fire runs deep.
more from Jackie's perspective
Performing Burn Ops on the Bighorn Fire in Tucson, 2020
Organizing the woodlot with the tractor in Boulder, Colorado, 2023.
Working with an air tanker on the Bumblebee Fire, Bumblebee AZ, 2020. This tanker doused our crew buggies in retardant on roadside, and sprayed some traffic on the highway as well.
Hiking in the snow looking for Christmas tress towards the end of their 2022 season.