Drenching rains on Sunday afternoon didn’t stop several hundred people from attending the 16th annual Burning Basket, “Radiate,” as the impermanent art was set on fire at Mariner Park on the Homer Spit.
“We have come to radiate together, to radiate happiness on a rainy day,” said Burning Basket facilitator Mavis Muller. “… We are here to radiate, but also to let go of that which keeps us from radiating.”
Adults and children in colorful rain gear added bursts of color to the overcast, gloomy evening. Devil’s club leaves and peony flowers floated in puddles as children splashed through them in rubber boots. As the light faded, visitors placed notes of remembrance or sayings on the basket. A container of feathers and a sign invited people to place feathers on “Radiate” to honor animals lost in Alaska’s summer wildfires.
“Radiate who you are, not what/who people want you to be,” one note read.
“Radiate deep joy,” said another.
The rain let up in time for Muller to make a brief speech before she and other basket makers lit the structure of alders, fireweed, grass and other natural materials.
“Building art is the most radical act a community can do,” she said. “The Burning Basket is made to have a short life — I think you know that — and a brilliant, fiery exit.”
Firefighters and medics from the Homer Volunteer Fire Department and a fire truck and ambulance stood by to keep the event safe. Muller thanked the department for its support and then made a joke about the people who built the basket over the past week — “the Homer Volunteer Art Department,” she called them.
“We’re like the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, but we don’t put out fires,” she said. “We spark them with creativity and imagination, the greatest fire there is.”