Unheard Voices from the Blaze

by Beedallo & Asmita Kaphle 

Flashe and Acrylic on Wooden Panel, 2023

Do you know that nearly 85% of wildfires in the United States are caused by human activities? Sometimes, it's something as simple as a carelessly discarded cigarette, sparks from equipment like power tools or vehicles, or a forgotten campfire that can ignite a wildfire. Wildfires have become increasingly common in many parts of the United States, especially the Southwest region, which we often see or hear in the news. The climate in the Southwest is generally hot and dry, with low humidity and high winds, which creates ideal conditions for the ignition and spread of wildfires. Although the root cause of wildfires is humans, we also have the creativity, ingenuity, and determination needed to tackle them and build a more resilient future for all.

As humans, we continue to grapple with the destructive impacts of wildfires, but all too often, our efforts are mainly focused on protecting human lives and property. Meanwhile, the voices of the aquatic and terrestrial species also impacted by these fires often go unheard as they struggle to survive and adapt to a world increasingly altered by anthropogenic activities. Wildfires can alter water quality when the ash and debris consisting of toxic contaminants are released into rivers, streams, or lakes from runoff and erosion. In New Mexico, some aquatic species such as Gila trout and Rio Grande cutthroat trout, which were already struggling to survive due to the impacts of climate change, such as drought and rising temperatures, are now facing further challenges due to wildfires that have significantly shrunken their habitat.

Through our art piece, we aim to shed light on the alarming increase in wildfires in the Southwest of the USA and the human activities responsible for it. We also wanted to highlight wildfires’ far-reaching impact on the ecosystem and how some species struggle to survive. We have utilized a palette of colors that reflect the intensity and heat of the flames and signage used to warn of fire danger, with shades of blue, red, and black dominating the scene.