Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Adabel Allen's Prints Invoke Remembrance and Nurturing

Adabel Allen adabelallen.com  is an artist from Albuquerque, New Mexico, whom I met this summer as she was working on a series of prints for a fall solo show at New Grounds Printshop and Gallery newgroundsprintshop.com/. The exhibition referenced her on-going concerns for nature - particularly birds. The piece above is a print I personally witnessed her printing in preparation for that exhibition, called "Nurture - Nesting". In it, we come across a nesting female bird as she protects her unborn. She is in the brush and undetectable until we are nearly falling upon her. Her manner is natural and maternally secure in her duty. She sees us, with a mother's 'knowing' gaze, that we wouldn't dare disturb her. Her duty is sacred to Nature's call, and we respect that.

This piece reflects Allen's love of Nature and the things found therein. She shows us this mother in her element; almost indiscernible from her environment, sheathed in her neutral colors that aid her from detection. The bird's surroundings are slightly more colorful, complex and upon closer inspection, a dizzying spectacle of lines and textures. The bird is nestled within a protected and safe place, and will see her incubation period come to full term. Allen also exhibited a diptych series called "Remembrance", which used a more direct photo reference to birds in their natural settings. This series was more open and free of linear complexity. The display of the two series opened a range of poetic license, which felt delicately balanced and complete.

What anchors Allen's work in this series is her sincerity and fascination with each of the birds and their environments. She shows us how they manage to support one another and hold onto their territory. It's apparent from the show that she understands the relationships of birds to one another, and her own to them.She portrays them as a homogeneous bunch, and reveals their habitats. One doesn't feel an invader to these birds or their home turf, but rather that we're one of the 'crowd', one of the birds in the group. That takes some doing, considering a comparison with John J. Audubon's more scientifically descriptive rendition of his Birds of North America, which were by design more analytical, and the viewer was more removed from the subject. Here, Allen allows us to be with the birds, and it seems they treat us not as voyeurs, but as their equal. The mother-to-be above is patiently awaiting her young, and it appears we are welcome to wait with her.

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