Artist Jill Powers explores insects, climate change at show opening tonight

Like pine beetles, Boulder artist Jill Powers does some of her best work in bark. Her mixed media fiber sculptures and installations draw on exotic natural materials, from seed pods to a tough inner bark called Kozo that happens to be "sustainably grown" -- and that's good news, since Powers's new exhibition, opening tonight in Longmont, deals with how insects and plants are falling out of sync as ecosystems are impacted by climate change. See also: - Why Colorado's forests are bugging out with beetles - Meet the beetles: How Colorado's forests are bugging out

Powers's studio is full of plants, tree pulps, seeds and other fruits of nature in some stage of being turned into art (including the Kozo, which gets cooked, cast, painted and stitched). Her work has been widely exhibited and has come to focus increasingly on insect life and ecology.

Her latest show, opening at the Firehouse Art Center, looks at various issues surrounding insects and climate change, including one phenomenon quite close to home: the tremendous devastation wrought by the latest pine-beetle epidemic in Colorado's forests, an epidemic made more severe by drought and the insect's increased reproductive cycle in response to climate change. Last summer's Westword article "The Beetle and the Damage Done" looked into some groundbreaking research on the problem being done at the University of Colorado, and the show includes a video installation featuring some of the images of pine beetles at work featured in that article.

For more on Powers's take on how climate change is altering insect populations, check out her website and blog. For a chance to catch her work up close and personal, don't miss her show, "Plants and Insects in a Time of Change." Tonight's opening reception will include several short performance pieces by members of the Contemplative Dance Collective; on Saturday, January 19, Powers will offer a talk and a film starting at 7 pm.

Plants and Insects in a Time of Change, opens tonight, January 11, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Firehouse Art Center, 4th and Coffman, Longmont. For more information, call 303-651-2787.