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‘After the Fires’ exhibit opens at Sonoma State

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Sonoma State University is opening an art exhibit on campus featuring photography, paintings and video that explore the aftermath of the North Bay firestorms of 2017 that killed 24 people and destroyed roughly 5,300 homes in Sonoma County.

The art was created by community members, including first responders, who were directly affected by the catastrophe, according to University Library Art Committee member Loretta Esparza.

Committee chair Mary Wegmann said their work reflects a variety of purposes.

Wegmann said:

“Some want to convey inner feelings, report and document for the community, reflect on the sadness of loss and the immense power of nature, and acknowledge the community outreach that occurred … Others wish to use creativity as a way to process the immensity of the fire, show gratitude to first responders, help others understand the experience, and memorialize the landscape.”

Their artistic mediums included watercolor, acrylic paint, ink on canvas as well as handmade papers. One piece includes panels from a graphic novel documenting one family’s experience of the fires. Others feature mixed media, including objects found in the wreckage of burned homes.

A collection of artist and exhibit statements and resources about wildfires is available via the university at http://libguides.sonoma.edu/wildfire/. The library is located on the campus of Sonoma State University at 1801 E. Cotati Ave. in Rohnert Park.

“Reflections: After the fires” will be on display though Dec. 14. There’s also a gallery reception scheduled for 4 p.m. on Oct. 17, the one-year anniversary of the day Sonoma State University reopened after the firestorm caused a nine-day campus closure.

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