Simple Objects: What do we retain when we lose?

A contemporary archeological dig of one family's home, Camp Fire, Paradise, California.


Tell me about the objects that you care for most in the world. The things you can’t give up. They may not be remarkable. We save these objects for the memories they evoke and the power they have to root us to our loved ones and to ourselves. The objects in this exhibition are what’s left after the destruction of Christy Heron-Clark’s childhood homes in the Camp Fire, November 18, 2018, in Paradise, California. In memory, Christy ponders what remains of four generations of family treasures. They may not have been what she would have saved: Nature does not share the discernment of the human heart. Stephanie Taylor considers the objects as they exist today, transformed, in the eyes of an artist, to excavate her own memory and create new stories. As the stories accumulate and strengthen, they give hope that the balance between human fragility and human resilience can be restored.

Heron-Clark: A Home Erased

These objects are curiosities, and also remnants of something horrific.

We are curious about the way they’ve been transformed by obliteration, something formed and silenced through chemical change.

If I get close enough, I can hear the items’ parched whispers, their altered state, reconstructing, what it is that I think I know

That I know.

Taylor: Archeology of Artifacts

Visiting London in 2003, I saw an exhibition of artifacts found in the Thames River during construction of the Tate Modern. Created as a “Cabinet of Curiosities,” my memory of those shallow drawers full of categories such as buttons and toys persisted. When I listened to Christy Heron-Clark, born and raised in Paradise, read an essay about her family who lost everything in the Camp Fire. Awestruck by her story, I asked her if she’d collaborate on my scheduled exhibition for June, “Simple Objects,” drawings and photography of everyday things. Chico was my birthplace. Writing has been my way of learning about California, including water and how forests recover from fire. Both Christy and I feel that this has been a contemporary archeological dig of sorts, an insane journey—of grief for what was, and fear for what might be—as we search for a way forward through reality, to resilience.

Installation at Archival Gallery, June 4-29, 2019, Sacramento, California.

Installation at Sutter County Museum, Yuba City, September 27 to December 3, 2019

Five Elements: Link to essay in Sacramento Bee, Dec 13,2019

Link to essay in Zocolo Public Square, Nov. 14, 2019

An 85 page, full-color exhibition companion catalog is available at Archival or from Amazon.

Please note that if purchased direct through Archival, a significant portion of gallery proceeds from the catalog and prints will go to the North Valley Community Foundation. While details haven’t been worked out, we hope to set up a special art fund.

Link to in process sketchbook

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“Window Fractured”
“Toyota Tundra”
“Ironing Board”
“Texture #4”
“Hubcaps Melted”