FORAGE FROM FIRE Excavation images by Norma I. Quintana

Photographer Norma I. Quintana will present her new series Forage From Fire, documenting the remains of her home and studio destroyed in the Atlas Fire in Napa California in October 2017. A solo exhibition of her work will be on view at SF Camerawork in San Francisco October 4 – 20, 2018.

Quintana is an avid collector - of memories, photographs, characters, antiques and anecdotes. Her photographic series Forget Me Not and Circus: A Traveling Life, document her fascination with the lives of unsung heroes and performers "behind the scenes." Her home was a testament to her eye for vintage curiosities, exquisitely curated and displayed.

On October 8, 2017, the Atlas Peak wildfire descended upon her neighborhood. First responders arrived at her door and she and her family had only minutes to gather important documents and quickly evacuate. Within a few hours, her home where she raised her children and its treasured, numerous collections of books, artifacts and art were destroyed—consumed in minutes by the fire's intense heat.

Days after the smoke cleared, Quintana's documentarian instincts kicked in and she started making work with remnants she salvaged from the ashes. Using her iphoneX, she photographed and chronicled the blackened and burnt objects - some barely recognizable - to create a new series "Forage From Fire". Framed by the black plastic gloves issued for fire clean-up, the sequence of images include jewelry, camera bodies, Christmas ornaments, pendants, doll parts, kitchen tools and picture frames which she saw as objet d'art.

The objects signify markers in an archeological dig for familiar treasures. But they also provide healing and closure and a path forward for Quintana. She states, "As an artist, when I despair, I don't break down, I break through". More than documenting a loss, her new project provides inspiration to others recovering from trauma and puts life into perspective. Quintana continues to excavate memories and embraces the blank slate placed before her.

About Norma I. Quintana

Norma I. Quintana is a photographer and educator born in Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from John Carroll University and Master of Social Sciences from Case Western University in Ohio. Quintana moved to the Bay Area in the 1980s. and worked in human resources in Silicon Valley. She began her career as a fine art photographer in 1999 and studied with pioneer photographers: Mary Ellen Mark, Graciela Iturbide and Shelby Lee Adams. She works in the tradition of social documentary. Her portrait series include Forget Me Not and Circus: A Traveling Life, which have been exhibited nationally. Her book a Circus: A Traveling Life was published as a hardcover monograph by Damiani Publishing in 2014.

Quintana has lectured nationally at Stanford, UCLA, American University, Penn State and internationally in Madrid, Spain. Her photographic series Forage From Fire, evolved after losing her home and studio during the devastating Atlas Peak Fire in Northern California in October 2017 and will be featured in a solo exhibition at San Francisco Camerawork in October 2018. Additionally, she is in a selected exhibition at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. Her work can be seen online at

Upcoming Events:

Forage From Fire
Solo exhibition: October 4 - 20, 2018
SF Camerawork
1011 Market Street, SF CA 94103
Artist Talk: Thursday, October 4, 2018, 6 - 8 PM

From Fire, Love Rises: Stories Shared from the Artist Community Group Exhibition: September 29, 2018 - January 6, 2019
Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
551 Broadway, Sonoma CA 95476

Book signing
Napa Valley Book Fest
Saturday, October 6, 1 pm

  All about the event at SF Camerawork
Join our newsletter
Be up-to-date with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events
Discover the third issue of AAP magazine!
All About Photo Magazine showcases the winners of AAP Magazine's call of entries organized by All About Photo every 2 months.
The Jules Maeght Gallery is a contemporary art gallery who seeks to engage the San Francisco community by infusing European artists, young and established alike, into a diverse, multimedia dialogue.
Since 2005, your guide through contemporary art from a French perspective to let you make exciting choices