Visual Arts


Hollie Berry — Playing With Fire

Fire is one of the primal and elemental forces which shape our world. We use it to warm ourselves near fireplaces or campfires, cook food, shape metals and glass, and even generate electricity. We have learned to harness it, even dance with it, but we delude ourselves if we believe we have mastered it. Fire warms and nourishes, but it can also consume entire forests or neighborhoods in moments. My torch paintings are about this balance between control, destruction, and mesmerizing beauty. Charred into wooden panels using propane torches, they often feature flames as the sole source of light within the composition itself. The natural grain of the wood radiates outward enhancing the effect of heat mirages and smoke. The combination of carefully controlled marks and fluid disruptions echo the fascinating paradox of the fire that gave them life.

About the Artist

Hollie Berry was born and raised in Texas and had a clear inclination toward art from a young age. She started drawing as soon as she could grip a pencil and was painting in oils by the age of nine. She continued studying art through college, graduating in 2009 with a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin. A few years after graduation Berry moved to Chattanooga, TN and found a fresh artistic start.

First she created Dewdles, monumental land art drawings in the dewy lawn of Coolidge Park. These temporal works paved the way for more permanent public art opportunities like her first mural, Four Horsewomen, which was part of the McCallie Walls Mural Project. Next, she apprenticed under world renown muralist Meg Saligman on the 40,000 sq. ft. mural We Shall Not Be Satisfied Until. Her latest mural on the side of Museum Center 5ive Points in Cleveland, TN will feature monumental scale native aquatic wildlife.

Berry began experimenting with torch painting in her studio whenever she wasn’t working on walls. Having grown accustomed to working on a large scale and having a preference for painting on wood, she wanted to try drawing with charcoal on large wood panels. Before she could even touch charcoal to wood however, it occurred to her that charcoal is made from wood. Why not convert the wood itself to charcoal rather than applying it on the surface? Thus began her first experiments with a sheet of plywood and a propane plumber’s torch, surrounded by fire extinguishers and buckets of water. The results turned out surprisingly well, and since she failed to burn anything down, she has continued creating new art through intentional rapid oxidation.

You can find more of her work at her studio in Chattanooga WorkSpace as well as her website,

Upcoming Exhibits in Gallery 111:
Hollie Berry
Playing with Fire
July 7 — July 29, 2017
Mary Hamby
His Beard Really Isn't That Blue
August 4 — August 21, 2017
FESTIVAL Exhibit September 15 — October 20, 2017
Alexa Lett November 3 — December 15, 2017