Tai Vugia

Tai Vugia sitting aside Clear Creek below Whiskeytown Dam, November 2023.
In the fall of 2023, Tai Vugia served as a Whiskeytown Artist-in-Residence. He spent three weeks camping at Peltier Bridge Primitive Campground, exploring the park and doing lots of hiking, and creating a series of artwork. Below is his artist statement and compositions.

Tai Vugia Artist Statement

Spilled across these six compositions is Whiskeytown in its current cycle of regrowth. Having last been in the area as part of a Carr Fire recovery project, the area’s greenery and liveliness was both heartening and hopeful. Though the land still bears many scars from the burn, the pockets of new growth, often surrounding singed but surviving trees, were a welcome site. The plants, animals, geology, and stewardship I had the opportunity to encounter over the course of this residency found their way into these finished pieces.

For three weeks, I had the pleasure of living and working among the oaks and pines, becoming immersed in the surrounding gulches, peaks, and waterways. Compiled from long explorations on foot, cool nights under Autumn skies, and conversations with park staff, a picture of a recovering ecosystem took form.

These vignettes of the park were created with ink, pencil, watercolor, and a small amount of charcoal harvested from the park’s residual burn scars, all layered atop USGS topographic maps. The tools, project work, and burn piles, less common sights when recreating at Whiskeytown, felt relevant to include – not just standing in for the labor it takes to manage public lands, but as a reminder of the ever-increasing need for thoughtful and intentional stewardship as our own interconnectedness to local ecosystems becomes more evident.

An impression of the landscape as I witnessed it this Fall, I hope these pieces age into an inaccurate likeness of the present Whiskeytown as it’s ecology continuing to change and regrow.

Tai Vugia1

Last updated: December 21, 2023

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