Out of the Ashes


Rachel Collier (topaz)

Tess Noble

Out of the Ashes represents the struggles our community and a lot of us as individuals faced in 2020. The bird represents a phoenix, a bird that gains new life from the ashes of destructive fire. The piece doesn’t come with answers, but only asks our questions: are we rising or burning? Are we trapped or escaping? Are we hatching from an egg, or struggling in a covid cage? The reality is that we are at the midpoint, the point of (hopefully) greatest loss, rock bottom, the point from which there’s only upward (again hopefully) to go, both in reference to the pandemic but also political unrest, racial oppression, and extremism. The question to ask is how do we as individuals and burners hatch, rise, escape, and make it individually and communally to whatever comes next. And in the tradition of the community, we’ll delve into these questions, our plans, and our feelings through the act of burning. Create to Destroy.

topaz joined the burning community for Symphony of Construction in 2007 at Flat Creek, and immediately knew she’d found Home. She lives on two acres of tumbledown farm with three black cats and some grouchy elderly ducks–and deeply hopes to add a raven friend sometime in the future. She always knew from the time she could walk that she was going to be an artist. She received a studio art degree from UT, spent 15 years as a jewelry designer, and currently works at an organic plant nursery. Her deepest love is Making. She often thinks of her avocation as “fighting entropy.” She loves to cook, to grow plants, to make costumes and wearable wings, and to build marionettes and mobiles. Her favorite mediums are metals and fabrics, and if she can mix the two and twelve other materials in a project that’s stupid-complicated and overambitious, she’ll be in her zone. Lately she’s learning to add wood, fire, and blinky lights to her oeuvre. Her newest love is working to build community with her chosen family, the local burner group. She experiences long COVID symptoms from an infection last summer and is trying to incorporate that ongoing experience into her work.

Tess is an electrician by trade with a penchant for geometry and propane accessories. When she is not making the lights turn on in and around Austin, she enjoys building elaborately decorated future bonfires, spawning a coterie of fire-breathing metal creatures, and finding new ways to make flames honk at great distances. She weaves chainmail and scalemail to relax, and loves smoky old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings. Her familiar is a black yard panther named Saul, who was once found spooning a stolen baguette. Like his human companion, he earns many OSHAs by climbing to precarious perches. While the phoenix lived in his backyard, he appreciated vaulting around his own personal jungle gym.

Check out topaz and Tess’ other partnership project, Stairway to Heaven, which will be the next Flipside effigy and learn how to get involved.

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