Burning Basket’s temporary art leaves lasting impression

As the lead volunteer for the Burning Basket project, a volunteer-dependent, weather-affected labor love, I have been witnessing this ongoing project as temporary art that leaves a lasting impression as it builds community and empowers individuals.

The most frequently asked question is “Why do you burn it?” There are many ways to answer, but I like to say, “so we can do it again.”

In Homer we’ve been “doing it again” annually for two decades, as we imagine, create, actualize, consume, erase and again imagine and let a basket take us on a cyclical journey like what we see acted out in nature.

I would like to share some special acknowledgements of the art project as listed in a Mayoral Recognition from the City of Homer in 2018.

Whereas Burning Basket;

~ has become an autumnal tradition attended by hundreds from Homer and beyond, demonstrating the richness of Homer’s natural environment and plant community.

~ has been recognized as an installation on the cutting edge of grassroots, interactive, and impermanent art, that reaches beyond Homer with enactments having occurred in other communities in and outside of Alaska and abroad making Burning Basket an emissary for Homer’s unique artistic character.

~ engages people of all ages, artistic backgrounds, and experiences to nurture their creative instincts, and is valued as a memorial to honor departed members of our community.

~ invites collaborative ways that people can engage with Burning Basket indicating how community-based, interactive art can act as a civic function.

~ demonstrates the strength, creativity, and interconnectedness of the community that exits in Homer.

Thank you to the City of Homer for recognizing Burning Basket as a significant event for our community members near and far.

I would like to add another aspect to the list.

~ The no-alcohol policy of this event makes it an inviting experience for those in addiction recovery, demonstrating how Burning Basket can act as interactive art as a healing force.

This year our basket “Create – Basket of Remembrance & Unburdeningheld true to its definition written on placards pinned to the woven sculpture. Create: to put the parts together, to cause something to happen as in a result of one’s actions, to bring into being something that evolves from imagination.

Many memorable moments were created and shared, including when hundreds joined in a call and response to remember all of the past Burning Baskets that were lovingly created and respectfully ignited to symbolically disperse our collective positive intentions. We called their names together, “Adieu, Renew & Reflect. Impart, Surpass & Sustain. Imagine, Together & Inspire. Enjoy, Grow, Reach & Expand. Shine, Dream & Radiate. Reimagine, Recover, Breathe & Create.”

I’m grateful for the energetic volunteers that are passionate about this project and come out to help with the build and to be part of the art. It brings the creative magic out in everyone. Thanks to all the materials gatherers and basket builders, Fireweed Academy students and teachers for an impressive circular walking path, Senior Center for a visit to create, paper crane-makers, cookie-makers, community drummers and fire spinning artists who contributed to the giving of the gift. And to those of you who came out to be part of the art and to accept the gift in the spirit with which it was given, thank you.

Thanks to the Homer Foundation for covering event insurance and pizzas, to the City of Homer and Homer Harbor for their hands-on support of the event, KBBI and Homer News for getting the word out. It takes a village.

With the ambiance of two distant trumpeters playing Taps, the torches were lit and in a brilliant display “Create” was ignited and met its fiery conclusion with the greatest fire there is, the fire of love. May the warmth of the memories we made keep us illuminated and connected. A peaceful, productive and creative autumn to all.