This is an original drawing that I made after the Caldor Fire of 2021, using charcoal foraged from the burn area near my studio in Christmas Valley. Measuring 22 x 30″, The Return was created on a heavy weight, archival paper called ‘Stonehenge’, and features a deckled edge.
Homecoming was surreal, marked by sensory submersion: lingering sickly smoke, red sun, velvet purple-russet-black forest, screaming chainsaws and deep silence. At first we were not allowed to go into the burn areas, too dangerous. Some trees were still falling, the destruction incomplete. Near our house, there was a small patch of charred willows from a spot fire that had been successfully put out before it spread. Without thinking, I sat down and put my hands in the earth. The instinct to roll the burnt fragments between my fingers came from decades of drawing with charcoal, and I found myself stacking pieces in my hand, they way I always do when I’m working.
When it was safe, I hiked up a familiar trail that had been badly burned. Morning light was pouring over the ridgeline, casting beautiful long shadows and dramatic shafts of light across the ashy forest floor. Sprinkles of illumination appeared and I felt the lifting of a great weight, understanding this moment as the beginning of a new cycle.
|Dimensions||32 × 24 × 1.5 in|