William Allen is a poet and word artist living in Providence, RI. In his new work, he continues his homegrown counterbalance of American folk art with ideas from the world of digital hypertext. In the tradition of the Encyclopedists, his word-constructions work to make startling or strange connections. Their hand-painted quality insists on intimacy in a world of mass-marketed, electronic communication and advertising. An inheritor of the Dada, Concrete Poetry, and Fluxus traditions, he works with a bright, hardware-store palette to inject optimism, light, and humor into a world of serious, Romantic, scientific and literary ideas.
Taxonomies consists of four new series of paintings, inspired by Carolus Linnaeus (the Swede who created a taxonomy for all living things) and the historical project of scientific nomenclature, including “Undersea Features,” “ 20,000 Leagues under the Sea,” “ Seven Deadly Sins (Bush’s First Cabinet),” and “Trees.” In each case, the poet’s love of language and naming works to create an anti-narrative that’s driven by the given names of things. In Allen’s juxtapositions, words take on lives (and stories) of their own. The goal is to borrow poetry from the poets and display it visually, to ordinary people, away from the musty world of books (which Allen loves) – somewhere alongside electronica, yet determinedly set apart.
Allen is the author of several books including Sevastopol: On Photographs of War (Xenos Press), 1997, and The Man on the Moon (NYU/Persea Presses, 1987). Recent poems have appeared in Chelsea Magazine, The American Voice, Global City Review, and Poetry East. He has read poetry locally in connection with the Crisis/Response show at RISD, at White Electric Coffee with Kathleen Hughes, as well as in New York at Brooke Alexander Gallery, Black + Herron Gallery, St. Mark’s Poetry Project, and the Museum of Modern Art.
He exhibits widely, including one-man exhibitions at the Clay Street Press Gallery in Cincinnati, OH and Momenta Art in Williamsburg. Group exhibitions include the current Multiple Strategies exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Williams College, P.S.1, the Whitney Biennial, and the Committed to Print show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Allen collaborates frequently with his wife, the activist sculptor Barbara Westermann, including numerous editions with Mark Patsfall Graphics. They also curate an online ‘social sculpture’ gallery called Living Room. He has received awards from Art Matters, the D.A.A.D, Breadloaf Writers Conference, and the Yaddo Corporation. His work can be seen at www.ekphrases.com.
September 23 – October 14, 2005
The Wheeler Gallery
228 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02906
Exhibit includes Infrastructure #73 by Barbara Westermann
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 12 pm – 5 pm, Sundays 3-5 pm
Reception for the artists – the public is invited: October 14, 5-7 pm