A new exhibition opening at the High Desert Museum in Bend explores forest fires through art



BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Across the American West, drought, dense forests, and extreme weather conditions made worse by climate change are contributing to catastrophic fires. The forest fire season is getting longer and fires are getting more intense and more frequent.

Fires inspired artist Bryan David Griffith to ask valuable questions. His artistic work will be part of the exhibition at the High Desert Museum from Saturday, October 16 Rethink fire.

Dualities in nature – life and death, forest and fire – are at the center of Griffith’s artwork. The exhibition includes encaustic beeswax paintings, fire studies on paper and large-format sculptures made of burned wood.

Griffith explores opposing forces in nature by using fire itself as a medium alongside other materials such as wood and beeswax. His work reveals the human desire to control natural processes, often with unintended consequences. Rethink fire creates a space in which the viewer can experience his own discoveries and ask his own questions.

Griffith’s journey into the arts began while studying engineering at the University of Michigan. After hearing about a copy of Henry Horensteins Black and White Photography: A Basic Guide to he built a makeshift darkroom. After completing his studies, he began a career with an international management consultancy. However, Griffith was concerned about the environmental impact of its customers. He finally quit in order to devote himself entirely to photography, adopt a nomadic life and save every penny on film and gasoline. The experience led to a personal connection with America’s public land, which was reflected in his first collection of images. Hear the wilderness.

In 2014, Griffith’s home and studio were threatened by the Slide Fire in Sedona, Arizona. From this experience he received a scholarship to work with scientists in a group project called. Study fire in the field Fire of change, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Joint Fire Science Consortium. The work from the project won the Flagstaff Arts Council’s Viola Award in 2016 and triggered the solo exhibition Rethink fire at the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in Arizona. Griffith currently resides in the mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona with his wife, Tasha.

“We are more likely to experience landscape-altering forest fires in the high desert,” said museum director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “Rethink fire offers a different perspective through art and shows that a force like wildfire, which can be extremely destructive, can also create awareness, resilience and a call to action. “

Griffith’s work is in the public collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; University of Michigan Art Museum; Center for Creative Photography and Fort Wayne Museum of Art. He has exhibited extensively in the United States.

Rethink fire (highdesertmuseum.org/rethinking-fire) will be available until January 9, 2022.

The exhibition is made possible with support from Alex Hodge Construction, Cascade A&E, Land Rover Portland, Tonkon Torp, Vernam Crane Services, and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.


THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and nature to convey the wonders of North America’s high desert. The museum is a 501 (c) 3 not for profit, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, received the Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence from the Western Museums Association in 2019, and was awarded the National Medal for Museum in 2021 and library service. To learn more, visit highwüstenmuseum.org and keep following us Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.



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