Title: Severely Burned: Impact of the Rim Fire on the Tuolumne River Watershed
Dimensions: 54" h x 70" w x 1½" d
Silk crepe de chine, silk broadcloth, cotton batting, cotton and polyester thread
The Tuolumne River provides water for 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Centuries ago, wildfires burned slowly and low to the ground, thinning out excess brush and smaller trees, and leaving larger trees to thrive without competition for resources like water and sunlight. The 19th and 20th century policy of fire suppression to save forests and human lives resulted in the unintended consequence of allowing fast-burning fuel to build up in the form of dead and dry vegetation. Decades of well-meaning forest mismanagement coupled with the consequences of climate change in the form of drought and unusually high summer temperatures resulted in the mega-fire known as the Rim Fire. The fire expanded to nearly 400 square miles in just over 7 days. 89% of the vegetation was burned and 40% was severely burned. The Rim fire is the largest recorded wildfire in the Sierra and 96% of it was in the Tuolumne River Watershed. Water quality will be affected by ash, fire retardant and soil erosion for years to come. Some of the severely burned areas may never recover to forests, changing the watershed forever.
In this artwork, I used the language of maps to show how much of the watershed had been severely burned. By overlaying the vegetation burn severity map on the 7.5 minute topographic maps for the region and I traced the topographic lines only in the areas that were severely burned under the rationale that now that the vegetation is gone, you can clearly see the topography. The Tuolumne River and its major tributaries and reservoirs are stitched in blue thread and the light grey stitched topographic lines represent the severely burned areas, highlighting just how much of the Tuolumne River watershed was reduced to nothing but ash.
Details: Scroll down for detail image and more information
Detail of: Severely Burned: Impact of the Rim Fire on the Tuolumne River Watershed
Techniques: machine quilting, hand stitching
Press: this artwork appears in the following publications, click on an image below:
September 5 – October 30, 2014 Bird’s Eye View: Aerial Art (2-Artist), Gallery at 48 Natoma, Folsom, CA.
February 28 – May 28, 2016 Demarcate: Territorial shift in personal and societal mapping, Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA.
October 10 – December 15, 2018 Art Responds: The Wine County Fires, 1252 Gallery, Napa, CA.
December 18, 2019 – August 2, 2020 Linda Gass: and then this happened… (solo), Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, CA.
September 17 - December 10, 2022 Fire Transforms, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA.