“FIRE!” at the DVC Art Gallery: New Exhibit Captures Devastating Impacts from Wildfires


Eve Werner with two pieces of art she contributed to the gallery (Autumn Jarmel/The Inquirer).

Fire season has passed, but there’s a “FIRE!” at Diablo Valley College.

DVC Art Gallery presented “FIRE!” to the public on Feb. 6th, displaying fire-themed artwork created by students, faculty and local professional artists. The gallery, located in the DVC art quad, is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Friday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. until Feb. 28th.

Kelley Dean-Crowley, the exhibit’s curator and a student at DVC, was forced out of California in November 2018 during the Butte County fires that destroyed the town of Paradise.

She proposed “FIRE!” to DVC faculty last April, and spent the last 10 months preparing the exhibit with others impacted by the blazes.

“A lot of the artists were affected by the fires,” she said, adding that the show “acknowledges social, political, and health factors” related to the catastrophe.

Artists approached Dean-Crowley, expressing their personal losses caused by fires. “I wasn’t prepared for the (difficult) conversations with artists,” she said. The exhibit became a platform to express their grief.

Eve Werner, who contributed two pieces to the exhibit, lost her childhood home in the 2018 Camp Fire that ravaged Paradise. Her pieces were created partially from the rubble and ashes left behind. 

“A town burned down, but so did well over a million trees,” Werner said as she explained the meaning behind her art.

After a meticulous investigation, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection determined that the Camp Fire had been caused by power lines owned by PG&E. Since the Camp Fire, PG&E has been implementing power shutoffs to reduce fire risk during particularly hazardous conditions.

“FIRE!” has multiple pieces that focus on corporate greed and corruption. One of Dean-Crowley’s works features downed power lines and broken bodies created from ceramics.

Dean-Crowley said she hopes the exhibit will provide a cathartic release for the artists and community. “We’re not alone, and everyone has their own stories.”