Bear Dreams: Harmonious Fires


In response to an invitation produce an artwork for Smokey the Bear’s anniversary exhibition, I engaged a bear’s viewpoint, only one of many creatures that rely on forests to exist.

The central upright ‘sawed’ log is threatened at the base by a swirling mass of flames, which, in turn, is surrounded and tempered by water. On the top platform are two giant whirling discs, appearing as the sun from the outside, and like metal saw blades from the inside, mirroring both the life source and the destruction of trees. Bear paw prints move up the side of the tree trunk to the top platform, diminishing in size as they meld to fit that of the bear standing on a stump, no longer in its primal forest habitat.

On the surface of one of the saw blades is the lifecycle of several species of pine: the cone evolving to maturity, then opening to spread seeds once fire has spread through the forest. This is an ironic juxtaposition to the politics of ‘preventing’ naturally occurring forest fires, which contributes to more destructive fires as in the Yellowstone case.

The bear peers down into the log’s cavernous belly. There, she witnesses her former self (or peers); one bear is sleeping, one is catching a fish and a third is scratching its back on a tree trunk. It’s everyday living from the bear’s perspective, until her home is gone.

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Bear Dreams: Harmonious Fires

Size: 47” ht. x 23” diameter
Media: Hardware cloth, clay, silk cloth, wood, porcelain, paint, oxides, foam, glue, electrical fixture & red bulb (inside).