Ghost Forest

An installation of photographs by Sarah Grew printed on glass from the ash of west coast wildfires.

Sarah writes: In the fall of 2020, huge wildfires raged on the west coast of the U.S., our sky turned yellow-gray from smoke, it rained ash across the whole country and left us gasping for breath. I mourned the loss of forest lands now blackened with carbon. Carbon, the basic building block of life, carbon the remains after a fire, carbon a material I use to create art. Carbon-print, considered the most archival of all photo printing processes, with an estimated life of 10,000 years. The charred remains of the trees became photographs in my mind. After extensive research, and experimentation, the forest memories, printed on glass to accentuate their fragility hang before you. My process and the resulting prints, with their frilled edges and torn emulsion echo the way natural fire cycles can surmount devastation to provide nutrients to the soil, force a pinecone to disperse its seeds, or shape the landscape, in contrast to the extreme intensity and size of the fires that are now common. The photographs show us the beauty being lost to human negligence and the climate crisis.
In the U.S., there have been an average of 70,000 wildfires each year for the last 10 years, 90% of them caused by humans. The Ghost Forest has 70 trees, each photo worth 1000 fires.