As I walked through the devastation from the Jesusita fire at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens I was struck by the visual impact of the charred remains. A treasured century-old house was reduced to charcoal and ash, three lone chimneys standing like tomb stones, a testament to what once had been. Vehicles became masses of molten metal, thousands of acres of trees and plants were rendered to dust.
In a matter of hours a vibrant living ecosystem had been nearly erased, yet as we walked through the remains, all around us were symbols of hope and healing, new life springing up out of the ash, charred roots sprouting new growth. Massive devastation and hope intertwined in the same dance.
It is the impact of that moment, the smell of ash, the vision of the gardens awash in destruction, and the hope of rebirth born out in struggling seedlings, or a bit of green venturing out of a scorched root, that I wish to convey in this work.
Normally I work with glass and steel, forging them with fire and heat to do my bidding. The gardens pulled me out of that comfort zone. I was captivated by the materials I found there, especially a group of century old timbers rendered into charcoal – so I adapted, choosing to take a backseat to the materials, letting them tell the story.
Working with these artifacts is like nothing I’ve done; it has been exhilarating and uplifting. I look forward to continuing the creative path it has set before me.