Visual art students itching to burn fire sculptures

It will take more than a little rain to dampen the spirits of art students participating in the Fahrenheit Festival of Fire Sculpture this weekend. The event, presented by the Artcite gallery, involves the creation of wood and straw structures that are set alight.

Members of professor Rod Strickland’s third-year sculpture class plan to build and burn three pieces.

“I am definitely excited. This is my first time putting an artwork out there for the public,” says BFA student Patrick Bodnar.

He says the medium of fire is unpredictable.

“We can do all the preparation work in the studio, but we can’t do a dry run,” Bodnar says. “We can only burn it once.”

The students are designing three sculptures:

  • a jack-in-the box that will spring into action as the burning progresses;
  • a series of blazing flowers that will float on the surface of a pond; and
  • a 130-foot bridge that will span the water.

Strickland says the festival makes a good first assignment for his class.

“Because it’s so early in the semester, they have to work on it right away – it puts them on an emergency footing,” he says. “It’s important for the students to learn what it is to be an artist.”

The festival also promises face painting and live music. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, with the lighting to begin at dusk. General admission is $5, $1 for children 10 and under.

The site, behind LaSalle’s Vollmer Culture and Recreation Centre, has been soaked by rain this week, says organizer Steve Daigle. If the pond overflows its banks, the festival will move to another location on the centre’s grounds. A downpour during the event’s scheduled time will postpone it to Sunday, September 25.

Find more information, including a complete list of participating artists, at