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Smoke Rings | Rob Tarbell
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Smoke Rings | Rob Tarbell

Artist Rob Tarbell mounts paper to the ceiling and then burns everyday objects like credit cards and photos to create his mesmerizing smoke art. The paper captures his desired images, in this case, circus horses, elephants and zebras, in a series he calls Smoke Rings. The performing animals appear almost ghost-like, their wildness tamed. Taken out of their natural habitat and trained to jump through hoops or balance on platforms, they’re similar to the smoke that has been controlled by the artist to create these stunning images.

“The performing animal images in the Smokes parallel the drawing process,” Tarbell says on his website. “The trainer must recognize and respect the innate nature of an animal when trying to modify its behavior to achieve a desired outcome: e.g. training a bear to dance or training a horse to walk upright. The same is true in working with smoke. The inherent properties of smoke must be respected, then permitted to – and yet discouraged from – acting naturally.”

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