April 24th, 2014

The White Space: Adrienne Allen

An Interview with the Artist: Adrienne Allen

Adrienne Allen

After a short break, we’re back with another gallery inside The White Space. For another month or so, we’ll have photographs from Adrienne Allen on display. Allen, who studied art history at Syracuse University, is a photographer and a painter. She believes “the artistic correlations between painting and fine art photography are myriad.”

Allen is a relative newcomer to Philadelphia. You can find her exploring her new city, from checking out architecture in West Mt. Airy to our own Olde Kensington, where Allen recently shot event photography for a local arts non-profit. Read on to find out how she got her start in photography, who her favorite artists are and, of course, where she’s had her favorite Philly cheesesteak so far.

VIUS: What inspires your art?

Adrienne Allen: Some of my photographs are inspired art history and some of the paintings by Richard Diebenkorn. Of course, there are many things that inspire the artwork, but if I had to boil it down to one element, it would be wanderlust. Whenever I start to feel an artistic blockage, I can gain a ton of inspiration from traveling near and far. I love to travel just about anywhere. It renews my outlook, travel teaches you to embrace otherness.

How did you get your start with photography?

I started when I was a junior in high school, working with the photographer Mark Durant in New York, at Syracuse University. He taught a class where did a lot of outdoor photography and I still enjoy photographing outdoors, with the natural light. We mounted a show called “Twenty-two Eyes.” That was where it began – working in film and developing my own black and white photographs.

Between painting and photography, which one is your favorite and why?

I really began painting in my adolescence, mostly abstracts with oils. I loved to build up my canvases with a thick impasto style. My love of painting came before the photography, but I have honestly become just a little bit frustrated with transporting paintings. At the moment prefer digital photography because it allows one to work mobile and without a studio, per se.

As a newcomer to Philadelphia, are you inspired by your new surroundings? If so, how?

Yes! I’m loving the architecture in Philly. I live in West Mt. Airy so all of the old grey stone buildings [I find] to be so organic and beautiful in the winter. Also, I am glad to live in area where there are plenty of trees and the great outdoors but still so close to the city.

Who are your favorite photographers and/or painters?

Manet, Larry Clark, Richard Diebenkorn, Neo Rauch, Nan Goldin, Carrie Mae Weems, Abby Ross, Kenturah Davis, Ricky Codio.

What is the best art gallery you’ve visited in Philadelphia so far?

So far, I’ve enjoyed shows at PhilaMOCA in Spring Garden and JOG in Market East, as well as the gallery here at VIUS because it’s a great space. I very recently shot the event photography for the local contemporary arts non-profit InLiquid at their fundraiser held in the Crane Arts Building in Olde Kensington. There I was exposed to the varying styles of many artists and I was blown away by the work, by so many creative Philadelphia visual artists and performers.

Any big photography or painting plans for the next year? New projects, trips, etc.?

Just to keep building my repertoire. I am a member of a photography coop here in Philly. We have decided to do a lot of urban exploration, workshops, etc., and to mount a group show at the end of 2014. I also have independent plans for a trip to Barcelona.

And one last fun question – where’s your favorite place to eat a Philly cheesesteak? Or, if you haven’t had one yet, which cheesesteak place is No. 1 on your list to check out?

I’ve had a few! Jim’s Steaks gets my vote.

The Artwork

 Twentieth Century Wall

The Language of Nature A

Mono Lake II

Mono Lake I


Beasts of the Bay


Adrienne Allen: Artist Statement

The photos in this show are in two groups exploring regions the East and West Coasts of the U.S. The Pacific Coast has always had a natural allure among artists due to its wide open spaces and majestic natural habitats and formations. The photos include a pair of sea lions residing in the San Francisco Bay. This exhibition also feature views of Mono Lake, an environmental landmark located in the Great Basin of the Eastern Sierras of California. The lake’s enormous, rugged, “gold nugget” tufa formations are so mysterious to me. I wanted to capture them in all of their eeriness. In contrast to this, the photos of the East Coast are more abstract and explore the ambience of the post-industrial cityscape.

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