Sonoma Fire tragedy seen through an artistic lens

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- We know about first responders, especially in regions impacted by the North Bay Firestorm. Now, a new concept---second responders.

"It speaks to a need to share meaning to an inexplicable experience," said Adam Shaw of Rincon Valley. He's talking about art. "Like anything in life the more you look, the more you see."

Even tragedy.

At the Museum of Sonoma County, a new exhibit called 'From The Fire' features the works of local artists responding to last year's trauma. They have filled the room with provocative exhibits ranging from the melted aluminum of engine blocks, to street signs and melted street lights, to the remains of household items, to a large, rusted, formerly classic pick-up truck.

Dead flowers line the front of the cab. "They are still beautiful," said Adam. "They represent the fact that beauty is seen in many phases."

RELATED: The North Bay Wildfires: One Year Later

The room is like a narrative. It provided distance, safety, and a change of context for the pain so many fire survivors still feel. You're likely to marvel at how destruction at that level can lead to creativity.

"Everything seems lost but everything changes," said Gregory Roberts.

After the fire, he conceived the Sonoma Ash Project-- a pledge to take the charred remnants of burned homes and make ceramic urns from them. The finished products all look different, thanks to the baked residues inside. They're the remains of living rooms, bedrooms, treasured places. All contain memories to hold symbolically and to keep.

"It's something they can take home," said Gregory. "They can hold the memory in a different form."

This exhibit will remain at The Museum of Sonoma County through the end of January. Imagine both distance from tragedy, and intimacy, all in the same room.

"This delivers history, poignance, it delivers beauty, and it delivers the future," said Adam Shaw.

He nailed it.

For more stories and videos about the North Bay Fire go to this page.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.