Artist Jenna Latham will share her passion for art and the environment in a new collection of works at the Old Courthouse.
The artist and outdoor enthusiast says her “Fireweed” collection slowly emerged over a four-year period working as a wilderness firefighter in the Kootenays.
During the summer months Latham works as an initial attack wildland firefighter in Nelson, a job she says offers her the privilege to experience some of the most beautiful and rarely witnessed landscapes in Canada.
It also gives her a close-up look at forests in peril.
Old-growth forests being engulfed in red-hot flames, wildlife habitat turning to white ash, and remnants of past life under her feet are images that have been burned forever into the artist’s heart and mind.
While considered destructive, Latham points out wildfires are necessary for the healthy rejuvenation of forests and many plant and animal species.
But Latham sees beauty in the process and says being a forest firefighter fulfills her need to find balance between stimulating adventure and creative expression.
“Though I am saddened and completely overwhelmed by this natural rejuvenation process, I have also been extremely moved and inspired by its scenic beauty,” she says. “And therefore, I create and want to share with my community, my experiences and visions of nature under fire.”
Born and raised in Salmon Arm, following high school, Latham earned a diploma in stagecraft, from Vancouver’s Douglas College, where she specialized in costume design and set painting.
Next, Latham earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of British Columbia, specializing in photography and painting.
While studying fine arts, Latham raced competitively in triathlons, marathons and outdoor adventure races.
Her most significant racing accomplishment was a sixth place finish in her age group, at the 2005 Penticton Subaru Ironman Championships.
After the completion of her fine arts degree, Latham continued her education, earning a post bachelor’s degree in art therapy from the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute in Nelson.
Latham resides in Lethbridge, Alta. in the fall and winter months where she works from her home studio creating with multiple media on canvas and paper.
When she is not in her studio, Latham is likely to be found exploring prairie landscapes, climbing mountains, photographing nature and collecting ideas for future projects.
Several of her works can be found in homes and businesses across Canada.
Latham’s Fireweed exhibition opens Friday, Oct. 14 with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Old Courthouse, 20 Hudson Ave. NE.
The exhibition runs to Saturday, Oct. 21. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is closed Sunday.