Gallery: Fire in the Sky

Artist: Ursula Schneider

Title: Fireworks Hudson River

Medium: Pigment and urethane on laminated nylon

Size: 45" x 94"

Created: 2010

Stylized fireworks

Ursula Schneider (visual arts) doesn’t want you to think she’s a pyromaniac. “I'm a pyrotechnician,” she explains. “I’m really good at making fires.” Fire and light often appear in her work; she once created a massive sculpture out of driftwood on the Arctic coastline and then set it ablaze.

Schneider first fell in love with fire as a child in Switzerland, where Swiss National Day is celebrated with fireworks (the holiday is akin to America’s Fourth of July). Ever since, she’s been fascinated by that ephemeral moment when, against the background of dark space, fireworks explode into a circle or fountain. Geometry proved her friend as she set to work on “Fireworks Hudson River,” sketching with protractors and rulers to create a variety of perfect, colorful circles.

“Fireworks Hudson River” is part of a series exploring the shifting seasonal light in upstate New York. The painting was part of “Always There, Imagine,” a solo exhibit at the Barbara Walters Gallery at SLC during April, in honor of her retirement from Sarah Lawrence this spring after 28 years of teaching.

Another painting from the ­Hudson River series that was featured in the show was “Aster & Asteroids” (2011). In it, five asteroids replace the fireworks, suspended in a darkened sky. Schneider created this piece as a complement to the fireworks piece, reflecting her awareness of other things hurling around in space that are worrisome and should also command our attention. –K.R.