There’s something magical about Katherine Allen’s show now hanging in the Academy Art Museum in Easton. The show is comprised of a dozen or so large-format pieces made of fabric that is painted and printed upon, stitched, snipped and layered. Allen translates nature herself onto the fabric, and creates multi-faceted pieces that are themselves, honest impressions of earth, of landscape. You get the sense that you’ve seen these shifting forms before, and you have – in the woods, in the marsh, in the garden.
As canvases, the pieces are layered, and Allen’s hand is evident in each tiny stitch and fringed layer. You sense that she creates these pieces over time, a narrative, starting at one end of the fabric, telling a story as she draws, paints and stitches up and around, in circles, in lines.
As you stand back away from the pieces, the story they tell is obviously a story of the great outdoors. As you move in closer, another world appears, one of individual lines and marks, stitches and color, the individual plants and animals, insects and seeds of nature all are suggested within.
Allen is a dedicated and serious full-time studio artist here in Talbot County, with an impressive educational and show background. With a BFA from the University of Arizona and an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, she has worked in many mediums, from sculpture and and graphic design, to painting, printmaking and drawing. She uses fabrics and sewing techniques as other artists use pencils and paint, except Allen uses those tools too, on top of it all. The result is gorgeous, intricate mark-making, and shifting layers of color on overlapping folds of soft fabrics.
Most striking in the show is her Four Seasons Suite, with each season depicted in color and line on large unprimed canvases (94×60 inches); acrylic paint and screen print inks, with hand-stitching. Using nothing but color and line, she translates the seasons precisely, with feeling. It’s hard to look at just one of the pieces, without moving back and forth between them all. Individually seductive, they sing together of nature and of time.
Allen’s work is very original and very collectible. Any of these large works would make a strong addition to a serious art collection. The show will be up until March 31st. And that’s a good thing, because you’ll definitely want to walk through this show more than once.
In collaboration with the Academy Art Museum, Katherine Allen will also offer workshops at her studio – information about those and registration can be found here.
Academy Art Museum – 106 South St., Easton MD