“I identify with open spaces, natural surroundings, flora and fauna,” says fine artist Shelley Muzylowski Allen, who presents her artistic visions in elegant combinations of glass, paint, stone and steel. Her masterful work in glass is the springboard for her creations, each a perfectly rendered interpretation of the natural world.
“I also have a love affair with rust, railroad tracks, and rocks,” she continues. “I spent most of my childhood observing nature closely, “branding” insects and snails with paint so I could track their paths through the summer, charting the growth cycle of birds, tadpoles, and snakes, and drawing my sightings of deer and horses.”
Born in Northern Manitoba, Canada, from the time Shelley could toddle around, she drew and painted. Later in her childhood she lived in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, surrounded by farm fields and ocean beaches. In 1988 she accomplished her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver, BC, with a major in painting and a minor in intaglio. Always it was nature that mesmerized her and would become a most important inspiration for her art.
Today Shelley lives and works in the Pacific Northwest and creates blown, engraved, and hand-sculpted fine art glassworks depicting a menagerie of creatures coveted by private, corporate and institutional collectors worldwide, including such notables as Sir Elton John, Dale Chihuly, and Allen Ginsberg. A high point of her career came about recently when she worked in collaboration with the Italian maestro Davide Salvadore, one of the first women to work at her own bench and create glass sculpture with a maestro in Murano, Italy, to be exhibited in the United States.
Glass has always been among the most fascinating of mediums, with its matchless ability to reflect, refract and diffuse light. But it demands the highest level of sophistication and skill to move through its complexities, to blend color, patterns, and texture, and combine elements as Shelley does. In her latest series, two sculptures, Rippleand Rain, the swan and deer pieces that include the presence of water, were inspired by her home environment:
Living rurally, we are in the migration path of swans, deer and other wildlife. This winter to early spring we had so much rain that I realized if I didn’t embrace it, I would be overwhelmed by it. Close to dusk each day, a herd of deer would cross through our field to eat the early buds and fruit. During their passage, I would stand outside in the rain as close to them as possible. Each day they accepted me more and one afternoon I was standing amidst the herd. It was silent except for the rain. We gazed at each other. It was truly a life-changing moment.
Shelley Muzylowski Allen has been a full-time working artist for over 22 years and is one of the leading contemporary glass artists working today. She celebrates her world through art, using a lively, gestural visual language, capturing in action moments of natural grace. If artistic eminence is defined as possessing and embracing a variety of attributes, fearlessly experimenting to achieve more and push boundaries, Shelley Muzylowski Allen walks in that spotlight.