Colorado Wildfire Shapes Sculpture – “ICE FIRE”

. July 20, 2013

After last year’s High Park wildfire in Colorado, which destroyed hundreds of homes, artist Mark Wharton and his wife Leslie found very little left in the ashes of their self-built solar home and studio. Their mountaineering tools were some of the few remains they were able to recover.

"Ice Fire" sculpture by Mark Wharton, featured in the exhibition Nature in the Balance: Artists Interpreting Climate Change at Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA

“Ice Fire” sculpture by Mark Wharton, featured in the exhibition Nature in the Balance: Artists Interpreting Climate Change at Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA

The Whartons relocated to Bellingham, Washington to rebuild their careers and connect with the local community. Making art out of loss, Mark was inspired to create a sculpture from the recovered climbing gear, as an example of changing environments and changing lives.

The sculpture, entitled “ICE FIRE,” includes the recovered climbing gear interwoven with glass and other materials. A spectrum of colors coming from glass shafts represent water’s transformation, from snowfields and glaciers, through creeks and rivers to the sea.

“Drought conditions in the west challenge the health of rivers, forests, and farms,” said Mark. “As climbers, Leslie and I have witnessed how snow and ice has disappeared. And we suffered personal loss from a drought-fueled wildfire that took the solar home we built with our own hands.”

Sculpture Selected for Exhibit
Visitors to Bellingham’s Lightcatcher Building at the Whatcom Museum can view Mark Whartons’s “ICE FIRE” sculpture as part of the Nature in the Balance: Artists Interpreting Climate Change exhibition from July 6 through September 22, 2013. The exhibit features 150 regional artists’ interpretations of climate change.

About the Artist
Mark Wharton lost his art studio in Colorado’s 2012 High Park Fire. He is currently working at Whatcom Community College’s pottery studio, rebuilding his studio, and building furniture using metal and locally sourced wood. His wife Leslie is completing a book entitled The Edge of Next, After the Fire.

In addition to his career as an artist, Mark is a licensed general contractor in Washington State. He specializes in residential additions, remodeling, solar system design, consulting, and installation. Mark and Leslie Wharton are the owners of Redstone Ridge Construction and Fire Earth Works Studio.

Category: Sculpture

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