Exhibit: Wednesday, April 3 - Friday, May 3, 2024
Reception: Wednesday, April 3 @ 5:00pm
Carlos Art Gallery

A photography show by Jessica Hays.

The Sun Sets Midafternoon Wildfires are raging across the western United States, burning up increasingly large swaths of land every year. While fire is a natural part of many ecosystems, the increasing presence of larger, faster, and hotter fires is a reminder of the rapidly changing environment.

Begun after experiencing the devastation of a wildfire in my hometown, this work explores solastalgia, which describes emotional and existential distress caused by negative environmental change, generally experienced by people with lived experience closely related to the land. Lands integral to our identity, our livelihoods, and our wellbeing are shifting and changing without notice or control.

The experience of a wildfire is all consuming. It crowds out your vision. The pillar of smoke is unmistakable as anything else. Our communities are facing collective traumas as we wait for news about the spread and containment, constantly refreshing web pages and data bases. Although these are localized examples of wildland fire and the trauma that follows, collectively the scale of these events is unfathomable. The day to day struggles of normal life continues on as fires rage outside our windows, setting our lives in a scene of gray oppression.

Cycling endlessly from active fires to aftermath, the images reference the ever worsening pattern of climate driven fires. Integrating photographs, moving images, and textual works, The Sun Sets Midafternoon examines the immediate aftermath of megafires on surrounding communities and what the experience of local fires are like, interweaving narratives of ecological devastation, collective trauma, and climate grief.