As part of its efforts to raise awareness about forest restoration issues and what it takes to prevent devastating wildfires, The Nature Conservancy launched its Restoring Arizona’s Forests art gallery last week at 7056 E. Main Street in Scottsdale, Ariz. The exhibit will run from Jan. 16 to May 15 and features local artists’ interpretations of forest health through photography, painting and sculpture. Here’s an up-close look at what’s on display.
1. "Mesquite Wall Piece" by Hayley Smith
Bisbee, Ariz.-based wood sculptor Hayley Smith is all too familiar with the risk associated with forest fires.
The 2008 Mule Pass Fire came within a half a mile of the 40-acre property she shares with her husband, sculptor Todd Hoyer, who also has two pieces on display in the gallery. Smith, who has been working with wood and fire in her sculptures for more than 20 years, recalls the devastation in the forest lands surrounding her home and the crushing fear she felt as the blaze drew nearer.
“When you see that wall of fire coming towards you, until you experience it, there’s no way to explain,” the artist told Earth911. “We feel so connected to our trees. When you lose one, it leaves a big hole.”
“You feel helpless,” her husband added.
The outer rim of this sculpture, entitled “Mesquite Wall Piece,” was burned with a small torch, while the inner area was texturized using a dremel to resemble an eroded rock face. The two center rims are colored by paint and pigment.