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About the Photographer
American, b. 1951
The photographs in Bernice Ficek-Swenson's Pyre portfolio (2001-2006) capture the ephemeral and continually varied forms of burning fires in a series of close-up views. In some of the images, regimented rows of smooth, round stones determine the path of the flames and affirm the fire's presence in a concrete world. In other images the flames are captured against a backdrop of darkness, the dynamic forms verging on abstraction or, in the case of a few longer exposures, appearing as hazy clouds of light. The portfolio is printed as a set of twelve photogravures, a printmaking process widely used in the 19th century that yields a soft but grainy quality in the overall image and an almost velvety sense of tactility. Ficek-Swenson earned a BA and an MFA at the University of North Dakota, Grand Fork, and an MA at the State University of New York, Oswego. She is a professor of art at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls.