Fire Season
Andreas Rutkauskas, Silent Witness series, 2023, inkjet print on baryta, mounted on Dibond.

Fire Season

UVic Legacy Art Galleries, Victoria, BC - To Sep 7

by Julie Chadwick

Vancouver-based artist Liz Toohey-Wiese says she—like many BC residents—became aware of wildfires as an ongoing concern around 2017, which at the time marked the worst wildfire season in the province’s history. “As a landscape painter, first it was kind of the amorphous anxiety that wildfire smoke brings and trying to grapple with—are summers just like this from now on?” she says.

In addition to exploring the topic in her own paintings, Toohey-Wiese began to research other artists who were dealing with wildfire in their work. This led her to co-create the Fire Season book project with artist Amory Abbott, who is co-curator with Toohey-Wiese of the Fire Season exhibition at UVic’s Legacy Downtown gallery.

An offshoot of the book, the show features 12 artists, primarily from Vancouver Island, working in a range of media and materials—from weaving to photography, handmade charcoal, painting and film—as they explore various responses and collective sense-making on the topic of wildfires. “There’s a dark humour and a grieving all at the same time. I guess that’s one way to deal with the grief, is to make jokes about it,” says Toohey-Wiese on the themes explored by the artists. These themes include the destructive and regenerative nature of fire, the divide between urban and rural communities, potential futures in a changing world, and the impact on First Nations communities.

In addition to the curators, Fire Season also showcases the work of Sara-Jeanne Bourget, Ana Diab, Kerri Flannigan, Jonathan S. Green, Jude Griebel, Colton Hash, Eli Hirtle, Sylvia McKelvie, Andreas Rutkauskas and Kyle Scheurmann. The exhibition also features archival materials and artifacts from the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan, which contribute to the wider dialogue Legacy aims to spark around our changing environment and landscapes.

uvic.ca/legacygalleries

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