"Burnt Offering"  1983

Over the course of my career I have created a number of fire sculptures, the first of which was "Burnt Offering" in 1983.  It was created for Art in Form book store and you can find it here.  As I continue with this blog, I will publish detailed posts about other fire sculptures along with photos and videos.  On this page I am sharing several photos of each of the major projects.

Seven Demons Dancing

In 1997 I created "Seven Demons Dancing" for Bumbershoot, Seattle's Arts Festival.  These pieces were based on the Mexican tradition of burning Judases on the day before Easter.  The Demons were fashioned from papier maché over a basketry of split bamboo making them light and durable.  Fireworks were wired into each and a coating of paraffin was added to make them waterproof and surprisingly flammable.  The Demons were exhibited during the festival and written wishes were gathered from the audience and added to the sculptures before the closing ceremony fire.  I will add a video of this fire ceremony when I make a more complete post soon.

The Seven Demons were effigies of the Seven Deadly Sins.
A cage was required to contain flaming debris.

They were burned as part of the closing ceremonies of the festival.

At the Crossroads

In 1998 the Seattle Center commissioned me to develop a fire ceremony for their celebration of the Millennium to be held on New Year's Eve 1999.  In March of 1999 I spent two weeks in Valencia, Spain, where I experienced Las Fallas, the very old celebration of the Feast of Saint Joseph.  I watched the installing of the amazing giant sculptures.  Hundreds of them are built, some over eighty feet tall, and they occupy intersections throughout the city.  I will share more of this story here soon.

I developed an an elaborate seventeen sculpture installation that appeared on five stages.  The sculptures on the center stage included a 'zodiac' bestiary of 12 animals around a nest with a 12' tall egg, which was flanked by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  All of these were on wheeled carts like giant toys to be paraded.  I titled it "At the Crossroads."  The building, exhibiting, and staging of the ceremony was unexpectedly dramatic as it became entwined with Seattle's WTO protests and then a perceived threat of terrorism, which prompted the mayor to cancel Seattle's New Year's celebration, resulting in the postponing of "At the Crossroads" until March 19th (coincidentally the same day as the celebration of Las Fallas in Spain).  I will share the story here soon along with many photos  and a video.

This is the scale model created in the spring of 1999.  Photo © Austin James

This detail of the model shows a projection on the egg.  Photo © Austin James

"At the Crossroads" installed on the evening of  March 19th, 2000.  Photo © Michelle Bates

This shows the brief emergence of the Phoenix at the climax of the Ceremony.  
Photo © Michelle Bates


I created a much simpler fire sculpture celebrating the opening of the Bellevue Art Museum on New Years Eve of 2000.  Here I incorporated the ember cage into the sculpture.

"Obelisk"  December 31, 2000