A few days ago, I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with the likes of Ryan Pierce and Amy Harwood, who were visiting from Portland to give San Francisco a talk on what they’re up to with Signal Fire. In July of 2011, I was invited to spend a week in the wilderness of Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest for Signal Fire Outpost, a residency program that offers artists an opportunity to engage their creative practice with the breathtaking beauty of the woodlands of the Pacific Northwest.
The residency was, by far, one of the most fulfilling weeks I’d ever been gifted. It afforded me a space and downtime to get away from the chaos of urban life, read for hours under canopies of trees and rainclouds, appreciate the beauty, vivid colors & intricate patterns of larger-than-life and microscopic bits of the natural world, spend a half day lost alone in the wilderness — more alone that I’d ever been (this wasn’t exactly a highlight of the trip, though I look back on it now with amusement and appreciation!), lose hours to the night as I sat in front of the campfire with fellow artists, breathe and think and wander and think and breath some more, and wander — alternately focused and aimless — for days between my sketchbook and worktable.
“Signal Fire provides opportunities for artists and activists to engage in the natural world. Our projects instill self-reliance, catalyze creative energy, and invite interdisciplinary collaboration. We utilize public lands to advocate for the access to— and protection of— our remaining wild and open places in order to enrich and sustain society.”
Ryan and Amy came to San Francisco to present all the ways Signal Fire is growing, expanding from the residency (Outpost) and a week-long backpacking trip (Retreat) to canoe trips down the Green River in Utah (Afloat) and Wide Open Studios, a college-level wilderness arts program. It’s inspiring to watch Signal Fire blossom!