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The North Bay Fires (Sonoma County)

Mima Cataldo | United States

Backyards of Coffey Park: Five Trees

The North Bay fires of Sonoma County (CA) in 2017 introduced me to climate change in ways I had not previously known.<>

Over the course of two weeks the numbers of deaths rose daily, and I often wondered "what would I save if I only had five minutes to leave my home”. Once the fires were extinguished, I began to photograph what remained in the backyards of Coffey Park, a suburban community of some 2000 homes, all of which burned to the ground. The remnants I saw told stories about the people who had lived there, so that outdoor furniture, a child’s playhouse, lawn chairs, and tomato cages became my subject matter. I continued to document throughout Sonoma and Napa counties for several more weeks, but when I returned to Coffey Park in 2018, I found burned out trees co-existing with the rebuilding of new homes, an eerie reminder that, despite public outcry, climate disruption has now become more commonplace no matter who you are or where you live.<>

Artist Statement- Mima Cataldo<>

I have been a social documentary and street photographer for more than forty years, focusing on the intersection of political and cultural events that affect social change. With a PhD in Social Science and MLS in Library Science, I have maintained academic careers teaching sociology, psychology and visual sociology and later, I was school and district librarian for several school districts in New York and California.<>

Throughout these careers and motherhood, my artistic practice in photography has allowed me to strike an important balance in life, showing viewers what my “take” on society has been while exploring our changing social norms. My recently published book “Witness to Change: A Visual Memoir” is a retrospective look at early documentary projects and contemporary street photography. To see images from the book and additional photographs from the fires series of 2017 and 2018, please visit my website at www.MimaCataldo.com .<>

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