This pyrotechnic artist paints with gunpowder and fire


Video produced by Andrea Bussey.

For Lisa Friedrich, playing with fire is just part of the artistic process.

“I have always been a pyromaniac,” she said.

Friedrich, a pyrotechnic artist, “paints” by laying out gunpowder on paper. Then, she lights the gunpowder on fire, creating a pattern of burns across the page. Friedrich also uses gunpowder burns to decorate architectural prints of bridges and other structures, creating the effect of a city on fire.

She acknowledged that her technique could be dangerous and that keeping the fire controlled is an important part of her process. “Everyone thinks it’s dangerous. Which, it is, I’ve had my fair share of burns and scars,” she said.

But it’s the unpredictable nature of gunpowder that draws her in, she said. “Using what you think is not a medium for artwork is what really intrigues people and it intrigues me,” she said.

This report originally appeared on PBS member station Twin Cities PBS. Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.