Jenn Ashton’s upcoming show Ancestry: The Art of Belonging, is a series of portraits based on photographs she found while researching her long lost ancestry. (Melissa Newbery photo)

Honouring ancestors through art

Jenn Ashton’s art will be featured at the next exhibit at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre

For North Vancouver artist Jenn Ashton, whose work will be showing at the Revelstoke Art Gallery from June 28 to July 19, the artistic journey has been a wild ride.

Ashton decided to take up painting as a semi-retirement hobby in 2015. She enrolled in a six-week online course to get herself started. Little did she know that it would be the beginning of a whirlwind journey for her as her unique and playful style and paintings became more and more popular.

After finishing her course she participated in her first only two months later. Then over the three years that have followed, she has exhibited work in more than 80 shows. The highlight of her painting career (so far) was in 2018 when she showed work at the renowned New York Museum of Modern Art.

Jenn Ashton is based in North Vancouver. (Melissa Newbery photo)

Ashton said she falls into the class and style of “naive painters, which means a painter with no training.”

Ashton said that she prefers to work with acrylic paint but does dabble and mix in other mediums as well. She describes her creative process as intuitive and she said that when she’s creating she goes with a bunch of bright colours to see what shows up.

READ MORE: Revelstoke artist receives second place in Kelowna juried art show

She said that some common themes that appear are animals including local wildlife and her own two rescue dogs. She also does a lot of self-portraits as well as portraits of other people that she knows.

She said that she uses painting as a voice and that, from time to time, she also expresses environmental and political concepts with it.

The collection of work Ashton is showing at the Revelstoke Art Gallery is entitled Ancestry: The Art of Belonging.

Generations by Jenn Ashton. (Submitted)

This show is a reflection of the work that she has done over the past several years to uncover her lost family heritage. Ashton said that she knew that she was of First Nation descent but that her family had lost their connection with that ancestry.

Since she began researching her family heritage, she has come to learn that she is descended from the last full blood Squamish family from the Stanley Park area of Vancouver.

READ MORE: Hammering it out in the Big Eddy

Her ancestors called that area home up until the city of Vancouver grew around them and eventually changed the geographical and socio-political landscape to the point where they were no longer able to continue living there.

The paintings themselves are recreations of images that she came across while researching her ancestry, done in her charismatic and playful style. Ashton said that she hopes that the show and work will “inspire people to find their own place in their history and ancestry.”



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