The Anthropologist had a brilliant feature recently on Etsuko Ichikawa, an artist who uses fire, glass, and paper, elements which are typically antithetical, to create her work. In her process, Etsuko carefully commands the fire to liquefy the glass at 2100°F until it is in its appropriately diffused state, and then marries the molten material to the paper at the perfect instant to create shadows in its wake. What looks like a bad explosion just waiting to happen surprisingly turns all three components into a beautiful imprint that stands as a testament to the moment it has just witnessed. The level of control it must take in order to maintain the integrity of the paper alone is a difficult task in itself, but Etsuko's deep concentration and sweeping movements make it look effortless.
One thing that particularly drew me to Etsuko's work was the fact that she stands fearless in the face of what most people consider dangerous. Fire is often used when describing an accident, tragedy, or other calamitous misfortune, but to her, it is an old friend that she collaborates with to bring her art to life. This comes from a subaqeous place within herself where she encounters watching something ethereal burn until it dies and is able to understand the meaning behind that episode. Like a phoenix whose mythical powers include the ability to be reborn from its ashes, so does Etsuko's craft from whence it came.