The 153,000 acre Camp Fire was the most destructive in California history. The blaze destroyed over 18,700 homes, businesses and other structures.
Jessie Mercer created a Phoenix Rising out of keys she collected from the people who lived and/or worked in the communities affected by the camp fire. Keys to peoples homes, businesses, schools, fire house, etc. Each key was precious and possibly only thing that people had left after the fire. I can only imagine the stories she heard as people gave them her keys.
This is an amazing story. Here is the youtube link…..watch it to the end.
She created a Phoenix that weighs about 800 pounds and stands about 7 1/2 feet tall and about 7 1/2 feet wide.
She also runs Butte County Art on Wheels which she created out of utility vehicle after she lost her home and studio in the Camp fire. Butte County Art on Wheels is a mobile art studio that aligns displaced artists from the Campfire with positive community oriented projects for the betterment of physical, emotional, and mental health. Partnering with schools, companies, and community members. She talks about how amazing the kids are and the strength they gave to her.
I hadn’t been to the town since the fires last year. The turnout from the community was incredible. They had to close the main street there were so many people there they flowed into the streets.
The presentation of the Key Phoenix was very emotional as you can imagine. It is house inside the new Resiliency center in Paradise, which is the old Bank of America building that was not damaged by the fire and later donated to the town of Paradise from BofA.
The artist Jessie was so humble in her presentation. The community gave her a key to the city. She cried and said she thought she had all the keys but there was one missing.
It was an incredible day.