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New Glass Works by Rik Allen and Shelley Muzylowski Allen

June 19th, 2024
See, Swan, Shelley Muzylowski Allen, Blown, hand-sculpted, and engraved glass, steel, 80”h x 39”w x 12”d

Shelley Muzylowski Allen and Rik Allen are glass sculptors that share an intrinsic commitment to portraying the relationship between nature and human innovation. Their work engulfs viewers into a world where nature and technology coexist in a delicate balance.

Shelley Muzylowski Allen: The Rhythms of Form and Glass

Shelley Muzylowski Allen, a venerable multi-media artist acclaimed for her glass sculptures, seamlessly integrates her appreciation for the natural world into her works. 

Through highlighting the importance of her subject's form, Shelley hopes her figurative works enact a narrative that befits and bonds with the viewer. Shelley muses: “I meditate on the universal iconography of animals and on how we, as humans, respond to their condition and inherent traits. By suspending creatures in moments of tension and recalling myths and legends through their forms, I hope to convey the significance and enduring importance that different species have held over time.”

Living rurally with her husband and fellow glass artist, Rik Allen, she draws inspiration from the lush surroundings of her Pacific Northwest studio. 

“I spend much time gathering information from my natural environment to use in my work. I focus on the fauna that reside around my studio by observing, drawing, and sculpting their forms to elevate their presence and highlight the fragile nature of animal species. There is a rhythm I hear specific to what I am looking at or experiencing. This rhythm often presents itself in my work as a pattern or landscape.”

Between Darkness and First Light, Shelley Muzylowski Allen, Blown, hand sculpted and engraved glass, steel, 50"h x 25"w x 20"d

Having explored many different species throughout her career, Shelley has one animal figure that has cast an everlasting effect on her life. 

“The equine form has long resonated with me. Civilization was built on the back of a horse. I feel like many of us have a cellular connection to them. My father and his family, both in Canada and Ukraine, raised and worked with horses. I spent many summers on their farm and at local stables. I wasn’t much interested in riding; I just wanted to be with the horses, capturing their essence and the effect they had on people.”

Blue Brindle, Shelley Muzylowski Allen, Blown, hand sculpted & engraved glass, horsehair, leather, steel, 20h x 24w x 7d"

Shelley Muzylowski Allen’s art invites us to pause and consider the beauty and fragility of the natural world. Her ability to meld the rhythms of nature with the fluidity of glass creates a unique and contemplative experience for her audience.

Starry Deep, Rik Allen and Shelley Muzylowski Allen, Blown, hand sculpted glass, silver, steel, 15"h x 16"L x 7.5"d

Rik Allen: An Exploration of Futuristic Antiquity

Rik Allen notably coalesces elements of art and technology between the natural world and human ingenuity. Renowned for his imaginative use of glass and silver leaf, his works reflect a deep contemplation of environmental habitats and the intricacies of space travel.

Rik Allen: Pulsaria, Squillia Ambromax, Sigmuretitti Bellessi Capri, Glass, silver, & steel base

Discussing the inspiration behind his work, Rik shares:

“These works blend exploration vessels and helmets with elements of the natural world, creating a contrast to technology. These works emphasize environmental habitats, such as forests and coral reefs. Encased within their vessels, they tell a simple narrative of self-contained atmospheres that are both mobile and delicate.”

Rik Allen: Coral Nebuli, Pinaceae Diaspora

This fusion of organic and technological elements highlight human advancement and the preservation of natural environments. His deep connection to nature is evident within his meticulously crafted vessels, as well as in his day to day routine. 

“My current lifestyle is a balance between studio work and outdoor activities. I nurture my sense of self and well-being through regular outdoor explorations—on foot, by kayak, and by bicycle—combined with extensive gardening and soil development. This immersion in nature profoundly influences my creative process and finds its place in my artwork. By utilizing the interiors of these vessels to showcase natural objects, the worn glass surfaces and silver veneer transform the interiors into stages for these environments and narratives. The Oculus-themed sculptures have always represented the acts of seeking, exploring, and observing the surrounding worlds.”

Rik Allen, Ragnaut 7, Blown glass, silver, 9.75"h x 6.5"w x 6.5"d

Through his work, Allen aims to evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity, inviting viewers to contemplate the mysteries of the cosmos and the limitless possibilities of human exploration. He states:

“In my work, I aim to capture the harmonious interplay between art and technology, using materials such as glass and metal to create pieces that embody a paradoxical relationship. The contrast between the rigid strength of metal and the apparent fragility of glass generates an enticing tension, symbolizing the duality of exploration and discovery inherent in space travel. I am inspired by literary giants like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Isaac Asimov, as well as the pioneering spirit of scientific minds such as Nikola Tesla and Wernher von Braun, my art embodies a theme of 'futuristic antiquity.’”

While grounded in the themes of science and exploration, Rik Allen also strives to infuse humor and lightheartedness into his pieces, reflecting the playful spirit of rockets and science fiction. He concludes:

“By exploring simple forms that lend themselves to sculptural expression, I aim to create a dynamic visual narrative that speaks to the human experience and our innate curiosity about the natural world.”

Rik Allen celebrates the pioneering spirit of exploration and encourages the possibilities of the future, making his art a poignant and whimsical journey through both time and space.

See more available works by Rik and Shelley HERE


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