Award-winning photographer Jane Fulton Alt is exhibiting her work at the Evanston Noyes Cultural Arts Center. Her collection includes photos taken in Lake Forest over the past five years while accompanying Lake Forest Open Lands on controlled burns of local prairies.
Artist Statement: “The Burn”
By Jane Fulton Alt
These photographs are part of a series begun in 2007 when I observed my first controlled prairie burn. I was immediately struck by the burn’s visual and expressive potential, as well as the way it evoked themes that are at the core of my photographic work. A controlled burn is deliberately set; its violent, destructive force reduces invasive vegetation so that native plants can continue to prosper. The elements of the burn—the mysterious luminosity, the smoke that both obscures and reveals—suggest a liminal space, a zone of ambiguity where destruction merges with renewal. These images of regenerative destruction have a personal significance—I photographed my first burn at the same time my sister began a course of chemotherapy—yet they constitute a universal metaphor: the moment when life and death are not contradictory but are perceived as a single process to be embraced as a whole.
I would like to thank the Ragdale Foundaton and the Lake Forest Open Lands for their generous support of this project. For the past 5 years I have joined Lake Forest Open Lands’ restoration ecologists on burns throughout Lake Forest. Their love and respect for the land is reflected in every informed decision they make to quickly changing and often challenging circumstances.
The creation of the photographic image is, for me, a reminder of the incredible power and beauty of the natural world.