VIDEO: “Effect” Michael D. Allen

Kate Fechter / Washburn Review / Video By: Bradley Hernandez, Washburn Review

Washburn art student Michael Allen’s senior show “Effect” is a mixture of mediums and manipulations, chronicling his evolution as an artist.

Inside the Washburn Art Building, “Effect” will be on display until Nov. 11.  Allen had an opening reception on Halloween, and gave a gallery talk Nov. 2.

Allen, who is projected to graduate Cum Laude in December, explained some of the background on his show. The senior show is an actual class, and requires students to put together the entire show and give a gallery talk explaining their chosen works.

Allen’s earliest piece is called “Grace,” and this piece he credits with sparking the rest of the works in the show.

“I was painting paper and then I would take a photograph and manipulate into a pure black and white photograph,” said Allen. “I would print the photograph onto the painted paper. So it was one of a kind, because the paper could not be duplicated. They were literally acrylic painted papers. I would then print the photograph on the paper and seal it. So it is a combination of a painting and a photograph. That got me into the whole manipulation part, which you see with my ‘Issues’ and my ‘Hear No Evil'”.

Allen has also included his “Wet Paint Photography,” which he has sold works from in the past and has proven to be quite popular with local art enthusiasts. He says there are four different series combined in his senior show.

“I have the ‘Wet Paint Photography’ series, and have done 56 different items and have a collection of probably 10,000 images in that database,” said Allen, who often competes in juried competitions, including five consecutive years of the Washburn Student Juried Exhibition, and does other gallery exhibitions. “I have my “Manipulation Series” from 2009, 2010, 2011. They are essentially self-portraits, in which I am trying to convey some sort of feeling or emotion; whether it’s the “Struggling Artist” contemplating, and the frustration and liberation of the piece, or the “Issues” pieces dealing with paranoia, anger and other things that I feel in my head.”

Allen’s other series is photography, which is so current that some of it is from October. He has included some of the works from a nude series he is working on and other photography.  The fourth series in Allen’s show are paintings.

 “I am using textures and a lot of uses of colors,” said Allen. “I am painting on wood, and building multiple layers, so they are kind of sculptural, in a way.”

Before becoming an art student, Allen was involved in home remodeling and painting. Allen ties much of his background as a home remodeler and painter into his work, and talked specifically about a piece from his “Wet Paint Photography” series.

“‘The Paintbrush: Red, White and Blue’ is a direct symbol of my years spent as a painter, and as a working class American,” said Allen. “It’s a one inch paintbrush and has red, white and blue drips coming off of it. It is kind of like an American flag. It is a direct statement of my years spent as a house painter.”

Allen currently works as a student assistant at the Mulvane, at least temporarily filling the position left open by Professor Michael Hager when he became a Full Time Professor. Allen has applied to be a full time museum employee upon graduation to continue his student job professionally.

“I was a one man painting and remodeling crew, for the first four years,” said Allen, referring to his time as a Washburn Student.  “When I began working at the Mulvane Art Museum as a student assistant, I became very interested in the museum field, and stopped climbing the ladders and toting the buckets.”

Allen credits the entire art department faculty for mentoring him throughout his entire academic career. He also gives a large amount of credit to WASA, Washburn Art Student Association, for playing a huge role in his development as an artist.

“I went to my first WASA meeting because I could get extra credit, and then went consecutively for the next four years,” said Allen. “I held every officer position in WASA, even being the president at one point. That is what got me more involved with my professors, other art students and community events, like the Aaron Douglas Art Fair.”

Allen is now serving the 2012 chair for the Seventh Annual Aaron Douglas Art Fair coming up in 2012. He volunteered with WASA for two years at the Aaron Douglas Art Fair before serving on the committee for two years after that.

“There is always that group mentality of ‘Hey, submit to this show,'” said Allen. “Instead of me wandering around as a loner and keeping to myself, WASA brought me out of my shell, and brought my personality out. By being more involved, it helped me as an artist. Before I came to school, I drew tattoos. I was kind of stuck there and didn’t do any other mediums.”

Allen has since branched out to many mediums, and uses many of the same mediums for his art that he used when he was doing home remodeling. Allen plans to continue to stay active in the art world after graduation and says he will never stop submitting to competitions and pursuing solo shows.

Allen explained about what is marketable in the art world, and how the works in his senior show compare to the real world market.

“Landscapes are the bestselling works of art,” said Allen. “Something like my ‘Issues’ series isn’t really marketable, per se. Most of my art has been done for myself and I never worried about whether it would sell or not. I have sold my ‘Wet Paint Photography’ before. Those are my more popular public pieces and the other pieces are more about me.”

Allen is well-known among his fellow students and around the community. His work garners their respect.

“Mike Allen’s work is really great,” said Washburn art student …… “I hadn’t seen a lot of it in person before, so to actually see his drip photography work in person is pretty amazing. I would encourage everyone to come and take a look while it is still open.”

Allen’s show closes November 11. He also has a website, www.thealleneffect.com.