Artist: Benji Files
I have been haunted by images of koalas and other animals burned in bushfires across Australia. Those fortunate enough to survive have come away with singed fur and burned paws, and needing intensive veterinary care. While the vast scope of climate change makes it an incredibly difficult crisis to comprehend, let alone adequately address, perhaps the koalas will be a point of empathy with the natural world that can galvanize action.
With that in mind, I used felt for the koala to make it as cute and fuzzy as possible, and the stuffed tree branch serves as its soft and comforting home. (Two lower branches, which would have completed the suggestion of a cross, did not make it into the final picture because of technical limitations.) The black and gray background represents smoke and charred forest. The yellow, orange, and red patterns may evoke a halo; the light of a candle or lit match; and of course, a forest on fire.