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Special guests at USU panel event spoke on the art and safety of fire

USU’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art hosted an open panel discussion this month about their “Facing Fire” exhibit and the many impacts of fire on art and our landscapes.

Katie Lee-Koven, museum executive director and chief curator, opened the panel with remarks on how the exhibit provides a visual and material experience about how fire is impacting us today, and how artists are responding to it.

“The exhibition was organized by UC Irvine and curated by Doug McCulloch and aligns with the museum's mission to foster engagement with modern and contemporary art, to facilitate learning, and promote dialogue about ideas that are important to the people of Utah, and the mission of Utah State University,” Katie Lee-Koven said. 

Brian Steed moderated the panel comprised of Jamie Phillips Barns, director of Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Noah Berger, wildfire photographer featured in “Facing Fire,” Samantha Fields, painter who is also featured in the exhibit, Eric LaMalfa, ecologist, and Wade Snyder, deputy state fire management officer.

Steed asked them specific questions and then turned the time to the audience.

Panelist Samantha Fields, a painter and the chair of art for California State University hopes her art can spark conversation.

“We talk about fire and we talk about disaster and it has its good qualities, right? We need the fire for the landscape and for the ecology. But when we think of fire as a disaster, it's really a disaster for us because we build in places where it burns," Fields said. "So I think the conversation surrounding the artwork is the most important thing because everybody has to be on the same page when it comes to fire or nothing ever will get done."

A reception followed the discussion with live music performed by Houston Guy, also known as Malfunkn.

Hannah Castro is a junior at Utah State University studying Journalism and Public relations. Her parents were born and raised in Ecuador and migrated to the States before she was born. Hannah loves all things music and usually has a concert lined up. She enjoys being active, and recently ran her first half marathon in Salt Lake City. Hannah enjoys writing and can’t wait to further her skills at Utah Public Radio.