Arts & Humanities

USU Art Museum Opens New Exhibition Featuring Artists Who Respond to Fire in the West

Noah Berger is a veteran wildlife photographer of 25 years whose images of wildfires earned him a 2019 Pulitzer Prize nomination. The Kinkade Fire was a wildfire that burned in Sonoma County, California, that burned 77,758 acres and destroyed 374 structures.

LOGAN, Utah — A comprehensive story of wildfire in the West is the subject of a new exhibit at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Utah State University.

“Facing Fire: Art, Wildlife and the End of Nature in the New West,” is on view through Dec. 16 and features photographs, paintings, ceramics and video by 12 artists who face fire in the West, sift its aftermath and struggle with the implications.

Collectively, their work asks viewers to consider the impact of humanity on the environment and what the future holds for a land increasingly at the mercy of nature.

Artists featured are Noah Berger, Kevin Cooley, Josh Edelson, Samantha Fields, Jeff Frost, Luther Gerlach, Christian Houge, Richard Hutter, Anna Mayer, Stuart Palley, Norma I. Quintana, and Justin Sullivan.

Fire as omen and elemental force, as metaphor and searing personal experience — these are the subjects explored by the artists of Facing Fire. In the past two decades wildfires in the West have exploded in scale and severity. The artists of Facing Fire bring viewers incendiary work form active fire lines and psychic burn zones.

Executive Director Katie Lee-Koven states: “We open this exhibition during fire season in the West. If we are fortunate, we experience fires from afar — but even from afar we endure bad air quality and it impacts our quality of life.”

Some of the work is by photographers who chase wildfires, Lee-Koven said, while others are paintings or documentary photographs or lost artifacts.

“These artists have literally faced fire and created emotive work that brings us closer to the realities of fire and the varied human experiences we have with it, including the lasting effects,” Lee-Koven said.

The exhibit also features an interactive area with a story booth, where patrons of all ages can learn as well as share their own thoughts or experiences with fire.

NEHMA will host a cross-disciplinary panel, “Facing Fire: Aesthetics, Environment & Policy in the West," at 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Wanlass Russell Performance Hall with fire experts, fire fighters, and artists from the exhibition. The panel will be moderated by Brian Steed, Director of the Center for Land, Water, and Air and it is collaboratively organized by USU’s NEHMA, The Center for Land Water, and Air, and Utah Public Radio. A reception in the Museum will follow.

This exhibition has been curated by Douglas McCulloh and organized by UCR ARTS: California Museum of Photography.

About Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art: The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Utah State University fosters engagement with modern and contemporary art to facilitate learning and promote dialogue about ideas important to the people of Utah and the mission of Utah State University.

Admission is free and open to all. Parking is available in the Gateway Terrace.

For more information, contact Katie Lee-Koven, 435-797-0164.


Katie Lee-Koven
Executive Director and Chief Curator
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art


Environment 270stories Arts 251stories Wildland 97stories

Comments and questions regarding this article may be directed to the contact person listed on this page.

Next Story in Arts & Humanities

See Also