Making Kin with Wildfire

Avi Farber

Welcome to my online Grad Show!

My 2021 MDes thesis project Making Kin with Wildfire has been a journey and I’d like to take you along. 

First I’d like to acknowledge the Indigenous peoples who’s land this work took place on. Every step taken to bring this project to light was on stolen lands. That of the Coast Salish peoples of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam Nations in and around Vancouver, BC. The Semiahmoo Tulalip, Á,LEṈENEȻ ȽTE (W̱SÁNEĆ), and Stz’uminus peoples where I harvested clay at Lilly Point in Point Roberts, WA. The territories of Mountain Maidu and the Koyom:k’awi (Konkow) where I took that clay and placed it in a wildfire outside of Quincy, CA.  As well as the canyons of the Jicarilla Apache, Pueblos, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), and Comanche where I grew up in northern New Mexico. 

This project is my humble attempt to explore my place within these colonial histories and to work from the heart to make a better future. This land acknowledgment is empty without sincere efforts to change my actions and work to dismantle systems of oppression.  I would like to acknowledge the unimaginable resilience indigenous peoples have shown resisting centuries of occupation, as well as my gratitude for the continued generosity, and openness I have experienced despite this history. Indigenous Knowledge has shaped this project and me in the process. Let this acknowledgment be an opening for all of us to support indigenous movements for sovereignty and self-determination. 

Making Kin with Wildfire

Imagine standing next to trees as they are consumed by living swirls of heat during a wildfire. You feel the power and beauty of this natural force, and at the same time you realize how small and precarious you are. This feeling only deepens after walking past melted microwaves while surveying towns impacted by this unyielding force. A sense of imbalance between the sites where we live and how we choose to inhabit them is hard to ignore. Yet, away from the fire, the material culture that contributes to this disjunction continues uninterrupted. The objects we use everyday affect the world we live in.

I make 3D printed ceramic flasks that explore our relationship to the land— clay vessels that undergo a transformation as they are fired by wildfires. These functional objects are experiments in a way of making with earth that is mindful of the more-than-human— the wind, the clay, and the fire.   Can we co-design collaboratively with natural forces? Can we craft with wildfire?  These flasks carry stories and ask us to dream of ways to live more reciprocally with the world around us.

Object 1 – Wildfired Flask No.1

3D Printed Ceramic Flask fired in the North Complex Fire, California. 2020

3D printed ceramic flasks. Wild Clay. Fired in the North complex fire outside of Berry Creek, Ca. 2020 15cm Tall

Interpreting these “Wildfired” Flasks

Object 2 – Ash Glaze Flask Series

A series of 3D printed ceramic flasks. Glazed with ash collected in the ruins of Berry Creek, Ca. 2020 20 cm Tall. Cone 6. Drawing connections between ruins and making in an era of deep ecological concern.

The hope is that these vessels carry new ways of seeing and an imperative for new ways of acting for those who engage with them. They metamorphose the seemingly cold, calculated, industrial technology of 3D printing with the wild, forceful energy of a wildfire that elicits both fear, awe, and rejuvenation. In so doing they offer a medium through which we can think about how designed objects are entangled with our natural world. We are confronted with a functional object that challenges us to think more deeply about the origins and relations of the things we use every day.

For a deeper exploration into how this project explores the relationships between emerging technologies, the land, fire, modes of production, and responsibility to place please check out the project website by clicking the link below.

My thesis will be available to read soon in the library archives. You can also follow my work by following the links bellow.

Avi Farber

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Avi Farber is a transdisciplinary designer and multimedia artist working with wildfires, ceramics, documentary photography, 3D printing, and new media/sound, based in New Mexico, U.S.A. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Bates College, ME, and is completing a Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Design from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, BC. His background working as both a wildland firefighter and a woodfire production potter, informs his unique relational design practice. His research focuses on material culture, industrial design, and our relationship to the land— working on a range of projects that explore human relationships with the ecological phenomenon of our changing climate and alternative modes of production. Avi’s ceramic work has been exhibited internationally, and his documentary photography of wildfires has been recognized by National Geographic magazine.
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