Featured work
Controlled burn at Ferry Bluff


I have been captivated by fire—in the form of controlled burning—since 1998. I am passionate about our environment, a concern which led me to this photographic project.

Firelines has as its theme the transformation of the American landscape by fire. "Controlled burns" of forest, savanna, wetland, and prairie lead to regeneration, a practice going back millennia.

My photographs freeze frame this process, catching in a split second the moment when fire is actor and conductor of change. Eighty Five of these large format black and white photographs are in my new book Firelines, to be published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2017.

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Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. I look forward to hearing from you studio@jillmetcoff.com.

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About my work

Place is a geography of rock, river, field and woods. Place has a history, natural as well as human. Place is a home, be it homestead, henhouse, town, nest, den or cave. Place pushes lifegiving energy through one's own body and soul and renews it. Place enshrines past desires and future hopes for those who dwell there and for this photographer.

My cameras have been focused on southwestern rural Wisconsin and rural Illinois for more than thirty years. At first, my observations included the woods, river and prairies outside my door; then the closing and division of almost 10,000 acres and thousands of structures of the nearby Badger Army Ammunition Plant; even the ravages wrought by highway projects. All of these describe this place.

Still later, 'place' in this same region expanded to include the ongoing encounter of people and nature, both beneficial and conflictual, as seen in my portfolios of controlled prairie burns and sandhill cranes. I saw further into this same spot on the map only to discover places out of time but in mind and space where humans, nature and cultural history intersect.

I look at place: Along the Wisconsin Riverway
Aldo Leopold Legacy Center Exhibit
At displacement: Badger Army Ammunition Plant
At replacement: Prairie Burns and Restorations
At a place outside of time: Rendezvous: Historical Re-enactors of 1760-1840
And that place in mind and time where humans intersect the natural world: Sandhill Cranes
Second Lives