Chamber seeks local stories, artifacts for Troublesome Fire exhibit coming in June |

Chamber seeks local stories, artifacts for Troublesome Fire exhibit coming in June

The Grand Lake Chamber is looking for locals’ help as it works with professional photographer Thomas Cooper and Studio 8369 to create a touchstone exhibit to educate visitors about the East Troublesome Fire.

“Our intent is to provide a glimpse into our community’s loss in a respectful and dignified way in order to educate guests on the human element of a wildfire as well as push the importance behind fire prevention, especially as a guest in a mountain destination,” explained Emily Hagen, executive director for the chamber, in a news release announcing the plans.

The exhibit is being assembled through a partnership between the chamber, Cooper and Laura Kratz of Studio 8369.

According to the chamber, the in-person display — “Troublesome Stories: Art & Artifacts From The East Troublesome Fire” — will be free for public viewing and housed at the former town library on Pitkin Street.

The exhibit is expected to open in mid-June with the exact date to be announced later this month.

An exhibit coming to Grand Lake in mid-June will serve as a touchstone to help educate visitors about the devistation caused by the East Troublesome Fire and fire prevention.
Courtesy Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce

His work being a focal point of the exhibit, Cooper, owner of Lightbox Images, was on site when the East Troublesome Fire erupted Oct. 21 and ballooned to almost 200,000 acres.

Hagen said Cooper captured nearly 9,000 images from the fire and its aftermath, and about 40 of those will be displayed alongside stories and artifacts recovered from local residents.

“He’s been documenting wildfires for over 20 years and he told me that he’s never seen anything like Grand Lake’s fire,” Hagen added, as she talked about the power and gravity of Cooper’s photographs.

And the chamber is putting out a call for help, asking for locals’ stories and recovered artifacts to display alongside Cooper’s images.

“We need to share personal insights and narratives from Grand County residents that evacuated from the fire,” Hagen explained, adding that storytellers are also welcome to share photos or mementos with their narratives.

“Stories are key in educating viewers in the heaviness our community is experiencing,” Hagen said.

Hagen emphasized that any items people might be willing to lend the chamber for the display will be exhibited on loan and handled with great care before they are returned to their owners.

“One of the most powerful things we hope to display are items our residents have unearthed in the ashes,” Hagen wrote. “These items will be displayed in enclosed glass cases with stories or personal photographs if the owner would like to do so.”

A major part of the exhibit will focus on fire prevention, and Hagen said that, at the end of the display, visitors face a wall that puts fire prevention on them by asking them to obey local fire restrictions and do their part to prevent wildfires.

Additionally, the chamber is looking for volunteers and is raising funds through donations to cover the hard costs of the exhibit, such as printing, display cases and collateral for the fire prevention display.

Any money raised over what is needed to cover hard costs of the display will be donated to a wildfire prevention nonprofit to help residents with recovery and fire mitigation. Donations can be made at or by sending a check to the Grand Lake Chamber PO BOX 429, Grand Lake Colorado 80447.

The Troublesome Stories exhibit will only be open with a chamber employee or volunteer on site at all times to ensure the exhibit is being treated as it should be. The chamber is seeking volunteers to help staff the exhibit and people can call 970-627-3402 or email

Hagen also said that Cooper will also be making prints available for sale and donating a portion of the proceeds to wildfire relief. For more about the exhibit, go to

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