Facing Fire is an exhibition that explores western wildfires as omen and elemental force, as metaphor and searing personal experience. Fire tends to spread. So, too, does the meaning of fire. Sixteen artists bring us photographs, paintings, drawings, ceramic, and video as they face fire, sift its aftermath, and struggle with the implications. UCR ARTS is collaborating UCR’s Department of Music to present original compositions created by students and faculty around artworks found in the exhibition.

The faculty and student composers in the UCR Music Department work in a variety of media drawn from influences that range from hip-hop to experimental electronic music. The approaches for each piece within the Facing Fire project are highly individualized. Some works are fully scored compositions for classical instruments, others use external source material and text taken from other mediums, such as video game soundtracks and news reports. Their compositions are a testament to the importance of expressing one’s creative impulses during times of uncertainty and isolation.

About the composer/composition:

Sean Leach, Highland, CA. Undergraduate Composer at UCR.

Composed using Analog equipment, most of the sound design is from scratch drawing from the emotions portrayed in frame. Being a native Californian I have lived through fires and witnessed their destruction. I tried to capture what it feels to be there; the warm desert ground, the cool wind, the fire leaving a wake of disruption under an eerie night sky. Both beautiful and tragic.

Image: Stuart Palley, Burned Joshua Trees, Erskine Fire, Dye sublimation print on aluminum, 2016, Courtesy of the artist