Article by Curtis Driscoll, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Elizabeth Raybee demonstrates art methods for an Art from the Ashes project.
Curtis Driscoll- Ukiah Daily Journal
Artists Elizabeth Raybee and Nori Dolan have teamed up to start Art from the Ashes, a multi-phased art project that will run through the one-year anniversary of the October fires to help fire survivors heal through the therapeutic benefits of art.
The first phase of the project starts with a free workshop this Friday and Saturday and a second workshop on the weekend of July 6-8 for people who lost property in the fire.
Attendees will have the chance to bring in broken pieces from their homes to rebuild or remake into art. If people do not have anything left from the fire or don’t want to bring pieces in, they can use some of the broken art pieces from Raybee’s studio to create.
Dolan will help lead the individual workshops this weekend. She lost her home in the fire and wanted to help other fire survivors create a safe space where they can have a community among each other. She wanted to have people work on art through physical acts, like breaking or building, so she came up with the idea of turning objects from their damaged properties into art.
“I think the actual object itself can be a reminder of how one can create something from something else, Dolan said. “Broken pieces can be reincorporated to make something beautiful or functional that will be a reminder that life goes on and change happens and we survive. To me, that would be what an object represents.”
Raybee says that some people might not have anything left after the fire, so she also plans to have different art pieces in her shop available for use as well. People who don’t have items or don’t want to draw or paint can spell things out on colored tile letters as part of their art project or use other art pieces in her studio. Raybee plans to have different types of art pieces available for people to look at so they have options. Two interns will also be available to help assist with anything people need as well.
Raybee herself had to be evacuated from her home in Potter Valley during the fires and stayed with her daughter in Ukiah. She knows people who still have not gotten together and talked with others about their shared experiences, and she believes meeting other people affected will be a helpful therapeutic experience.
“The people who have suffered a lot through the loss have a chance to express themselves, come together, tell their story, be heard, and help rebuild in a way that’s positive and will connect with the community,” Raybee said.
The second phase of the project will be a mosaic mural, which will be created and installed in Redwood Valley. People involved in the workshops have the opportunity to make tiles that can go into the wall or stop by and help with whatever they want.
She has heard from numerous fire survivors about their experience from that night and wanted to hear from people at the workshop about what they hope to see from the mural before she begins.
“I just wanted to go through hearing people tell their own stories and see if any of them have ideas about things that need to go in or to see what we get given in terms of bits before I do the drawing for it,” Raybee said.
The third part of the project will consist of shows in October at the Mendocino County Museum in Willits and the Redwood Valley Grange to commemorate the fires. People in the community have the chance to submit any form of art related to the fire that will then be shown in October, regardless if it is drawings, painting or sculptures.
Alyssum Wier of the Arts Council of Mendocino County says they are working with Raybee to provide funds for all the different parts of the Art from the Ashes project. The Arts Council is also assisting with other art projects related to the October fire by providing grants to artists in the area who lost their supplies and equipment in the fire.
Wier says that art that brings together fire survivors can have a therapeutic aspect that allows them to express emotions in a non-verbal way. She believes that therapeutic art projects can bring people together to understand their experiences in a shared way that is necessary to heal a community.
“Everyone’s on a different path with recovering and healing from the fire,” Wier said. “We just want to make sure that there are lots of avenues and ways to do that through writing or painting or coming together with others who have shared that experience, and making something beautiful out of the pieces.”