In 2016 I began photographing and collecting ash of local California wildfires. Combining the ash with white oil paint on wood panels that I charred with torches, I painted the ash clouds produced by the fires. Applied in thin layers, the images emerge out of the ashy abyss. Following the fire portraits, I began to paint old family photos, coinciding with my mother’s sudden return to the Czech Republic to care for her aging parents and leaving her husband behind. A quarter of a century of her life in America went up in smoke in a matter of hours. Here in the US, I am thousands of miles and feel several lifetimes away. Building these images in ash became an investigation - into my family, belonging, memory, nostalgia and painting itself.