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Jane Ingram Allen and Marcia Widenor
Still Waters

May 7 ~ 31
Opening Reception 5/8 (Thu.) 6~8pm

After the Tsunami; Marcia Widenor, 2004-05; dimensions variable, approx. 8’ x 60’; hand knitted, hand-dyed linen thread
No Water, Jane Ingram Allen, 2008; 80” x 59”; mixed media wall hanging: handmade paper from plants of Tanzania, Africa, red clay, carbon, grass, threadå

Jane Ingram Allen’s and Marcia Widenor’s works evince their interest in the future of our planet. This show’s title Still Waters….implies myriad meanings but very importantly engages with the subject of catastrophic events concerning water or its absence. Widenor deals with tsunami or seismic waves that have recently devastated parts of the world. Her delicate wavelike membranes hang from the gallery ceilings that emulate the undulating nature of ocean waves. Widenor is referencing the many recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina that took place in August 2005, the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, and Mt. St. Helen’s eruption in 1980. Yet, her woven lacelike forms belie the idea of disaster in their extreme fragility. Her installation After the Tsunami…..consists of loosely knitted hand-dyed linen threads forming veils that confront the viewer as much as envelope him into their midst. Because Widenor’s installations are loosely woven they are transparent and light and can move with the atmosphere’s air currents. As much as they are reminiscent of ocean waves, they can also be read in terms of protective shelters or as hollow forms reminiscent of forts, tree houses, and other childhood hideouts where precious objects were stashed. Widenor states that her forms are born from “the structure and texture of organic materials. The picture formed in the mind's eye gradually becomes a place, an enterable sculpture, a tent, a shelter, a hollow tree or cupboard. The installations emerge from childhood memories, from the experience of working with seriously ill children in hospitals and from a yearning for safety and calm in a world not safe or calm anymore.” Widenor’s constructions act as membranes that can afford us in their folds, a locus wherein we can hide from the storm at least temporarily.

Still Water; 2007, Jane Ingram Allen, dimensions variable, 200 units, each approx. 12” x 2.5” x 2.5”; mixed media installation: handmade paper, dye, wildflower seeds

Jane Ingram Allen has been working with papermaking incorporating this material into her installations. Her ecological concerns arise from her compassionate nature and her commitment to preserving life. Her many art residencies have brought her in direct contact with the devastation wrought by nature as a result of human exploitation. Subsequently, Allen prolongs the life of plants when she makes them into paper turning them not only into objects of beauty for the benefit of mankind but also affording life through them by planting seeds in their midst that will eventually sprout flowers. This eco-friendly art takes place in time unlike static works of art that sit on a gallery wall. This time element accords with nature and can bring negative or positive results depending on what is sown. When Allen did her residency in Africa she came into contact with the red clay of the earth as well as the local plants of Tanzania where she worked. By using this red clay in her No Water she’s referencing the many droughts and cracked soil of areas near Arusha and Moshi in Northwestern Tanzania where water is a precious commodity.

Another Allen installation Every Drop Counts comprises paper sculptures in the form of water drops arranged in the gallery like spilt water or splatters on a glass pane. The paper for this work is made from mulberry bark fibers and contains seeds for wildflowers. The discrete raindrops are colored blue with non-toxic dyes and act as pods for wildflowers to bloom eventually. This is a viewer-artist collaborative piece in that Allen invites the visitor to make a pledge to conserve water while welcoming him to take a paper drop away with him where they can plant the drop and water it to grow. As viewers carry away the paper raindrops Allen replaces and replenishes them on the gallery walls. This constantly changing configuration of the number of drops incorporating growth potential in the seeds also transcends typical artworks that are stationary. Even after the exhibition the drops will be absorbed into the soil and the seeds will take root and re-invigorate the earth to continue the cycle of life.

Both Allen and Widenor are accomplished masters who have been actively working in the arts for the past couple of decades. Their work has been exhibited internationally and has become part of many important museum and private collections. Allen has shown in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and at nationwide venues. She has earned many honors and attended international art workshops. Among many other permanent collections Allen's work is included in the Sacatar Foundation, Itaparica, Bahia, Brazil, Mino Culture Hall, Mino City, Japan, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry, WV, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, East Rutherford, NJ, Corning Glass Credit Union, Corning, NY, American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP), New York, NY, and the Motorola Corporation, Delray Beach, Florida. A selected list of permanent collections with Widenor's work includes Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME, Islip Museum of Art, New York, Queensborough Community College Museum, Bayside, New York, Dell Corporation, Austin, Texas, Ameritech, Chicago, Il, American Paper Company, Pound Ridge, NJ, Godrej and Boyce, Bombay, India, North Atlantic Industries, Inc., Hauppauge, NY, and the Clinton Whitehouse, Washington, DC.


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