Tuesday, December 4, 2012

take your camera with you...

Take your camera to the grocery store, a giant cloud might appear above the roof. 

sleeping face at Sutro Baths

I have been busy working on a major revamp of my website. I will be adding many more images when I launch the portfolio section. I have been transforming my external hard drive into something searchable instead of a pile of years of data sealed like a time capsule. I wish I would practice what I preach to my students when it comes to file naming, but if I were more organized I might have never come across this jem. I found this while I was cleaning up a collection of images of what I call the moon rocks taken at the Sutro Bath ruins in San Fransisco. I accidentally turned the image on its side and noticed the sleeping face. I just adore finding faces in the landscape, like sleeping giants hiding in plain sight. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

a certain type of devil's humor

take your medicine
collage in progress
work in progress- painted backgrounds on plywood 




not my fault

before & after

bowling for abominations


I make no distinction between taking and making when it comes to photography. It is post-photographic age, the illusion of a pretty picture as a window into another world is so passé. In these pieces obvious manipulation forces a focus on surface rather than illusion. My photographs often become objects, where the viewer is forced to look at it rather than through it. The images in a certain type of devil's humor are collage over paint on chunky plywood. The source images came from a box of clippings rescued from the trash by Chris Peregoy. He said they were left behind when an early video artist from his school died and his office had to be cleaned out. It was an interesting collection including many images of outer space and rockets, large machines and early computers, various creatures, people in national geographic and a few 1950's quasi-pornographic images. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

North Carolina Foggy Landscapes

Worked on color correcting these images today. They are from North Carolina taken with my iPhone while at Penland School of Crafts in August. One morning after breakfast the fog was so heavy and nice coming over the mountains that I skipped out on class and just took a walkabout in the surrounding woods. Couldn't stop looking up and chasing light coming through the cloudy fog. At Penland everywhere feels like an uphill walk and I was afraid if I walked back to my room to get my "real" camera the fog would lift. So the cell phone just had to make due. I walked aimlessly for a while before I realize I was quite unfamiliar with the lay of the land and I had no signal for google maps. I began to be overwhelmed with thoughts of lions and tigers and bears and law & order SVU cases. Then I ran into a few landscape painting students carrying easels and followed my way back. I guess I didn't go too far astray but I decided that was enough of the wandering alone with your head in the clouds for me. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

searching for heaven in the stars because I miss you

I have felt an overwhelming sense of relief with the completion of this piece. I have wanted to do some sort of memorial piece for my sons but I was struggling with what to do. The idea for this image was floating around in my head for a little over a year before anything got out onto paper. In the spring of 2011, Wyatt and I visited the Cumberland Observatory which is less than a block from our house. They open the observatory to the public occasionally by placing a funny little hand painted sign on the side of the road that says "see the stars" in silver paint. It is a small observatory that was build in the 1970s on what was then the edge of town. Now the observatory is in the middle of a busy subdivision and visibility is compromised by light pollution. 

It was an interesting experience even though we didn't really see anything. As we walked home I started to think about, confuse or merge the overlap of star gazing and the idea of heaven in the clouds. When I got home I drew a circle in my sketch book and wrote "searching for heaven in the stars because I miss you" (which is written on the finished piece). 

Then in the summer of 2011 I did an artist residency at KALA art institute in Berkley. One of the first days I was there I stopped in a thrift store and bought a star guide from the 1960s. I thought I could appropriate it into my work. I did several scans of the star guide and made a screen print but it just wasn't right so I destroyed it. Nothing came of it while in California but in the summer of 2012, I took a workshop with Holly Roberts at Penland School of Crafts in South Carolina where so many things came together for me. I didn't really know what to bring with me to the workshop. I packed a hodgepodge of things including the star guide. Chris Peregoy demonstrated the Dass transfer method. I used this method to transfer a manipulated version of the star guide over an acrylic painting I did on Twinrocker paper. Then I transferred images of a fetus onto small squares of handmade paper that I made at the Lacy's house several years back. I think the fetus image is from an old national geographic but I'm not really sure. 

I'm not very comfortable with appropriating photographs but with Holly's guidance I found the confidence to steal. The fetus image is manipulated and cropped. I wanted the coloring to resemble a tintype; small, precious and loved . There was something about the gesture of the hands in the picture that spoke to me.

I traveled almost 6,000 miles in the creation of this image. Talking with many artists along the way and learning many new things. Often in making art I have found that I need to learn to wait until the pieces align and reveal themselves. Waiting is not an easy thing. 

MWSPE Opening

MWSPE Opening in Cincinnati

Friday, September 7, 2012

Banjo Transfer

So I just got back from Penland School of Crafts a few weeks ago where I took a collage/photo/paint/transfer class. (I will post that work soon). Wyatt was excited about the work I did there and I guess I am too. So we did a xerox transfer onto his banjo. He is super in love with it. He wants to do transfers on everything now. He keeps saying "it was just a piece of paper!" I guess transfers have some kind of magical quality to them. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

LSO Donation

I am donating this photo transfer to the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra Fundraiser: The Bond Bash, heralding the 50th anniversary of the most famous spy in the world: Bond, James Bond. The event will include an elegant dinner, dancing, a live auction, and 007-themed decor in the transformed setting of the Purdue Memorial Union's North Ballroom. The evening will also feature a VIP pre-party and Art Heist featuring paintings, photographs, pottery, and more from local artists.

Little Head is a photo transfer created by hand using the Dass transfer method onto watercolor paper. It is 11 by 14 inched framed. This photograph was taken with my iPhone and minimally manipulated in photoshop. It is an image of a small cabbage I grew in my garden and then photographed on the kitchen table using window light. It almost makes me laugh to combine a handmade process like a photo transfer with the high-tech capture method using an iPhone. Oh how the photographers methods are always changing, but there will always be something beautiful about a handmade one of a kind print. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


My work has been selected (not sure which ones or how many) for the Midwest Society for Photographic Education (SPE) Members Show in Covington, Kentucky during the month of October 2012. The juror was Catherine Evans, the William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography at the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio.

The exhibition will be held at The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center in conjuncture with FOTOFOCUS, a city-wide, month-long biennial celebration spotlighting numerous exhibitions of historical and contemporary photography. I’m excited that I will get to see the show in person since I am attending the MWSPE Conference, Continuum: Photography and Education. 


These constructed self-portraits were shot behind a screen of punctured, cut, slit and ripped velum. These images were shot while coping with overwhelming tragedies and disappointments in my personal life.

My mind is far away; again I'm finding the milk in the oven with my car keys. Routines have collapsed. Waiting for the fog to lift.

Friday, July 6, 2012

IAC Individual Artist Grant

Today I got a congratulatory letter in the mail from the Indiana Arts Commission and Governor Mitch Daniels. I was awarded an Individual Artist Grant in the visual arts category. I was one of 39 artists in Indiana chosen to receive career development assistance through the Individual Artist Program. In August I will attend a workshop at Penland School of Crafts with  Holly RobertsSolving Problems: Collage & Paint.  I hope the workshop will inspire me to finish a series of prints and then exhibit them. 

Read about the projects here:

Just a side note, I've been experimenting with a mixture of dyes and moonshine. Results are looking like this...

Friday, June 22, 2012

new works on plaster substrate...

I don't know if its all the home improvement projects (drywall?) or reading about the history of plaster in art (think: pyramids, frescoes, Rodin, Cynthia Plaster Caster, etc.) but I just couldn't get the thought of painting on a dry, rough plaster texture out of my mind. The process and the product have some similarities to the excavated screen prints I was working on last year at Kala, the repetition of additive and subtractive application of color.  And not only the hue (colors with a connection to body fluids) but also the subject matter relate to the marbled paper I was working on but never finished. These plaster pieces may or may not be complete either. I've been thinking of adding another layer that contains some sort of image transfer but I'm not sure if a photograph or print would add anything. Maybe all of these bits and pieces will pull together eventually. 

I am loving working with plaster, for me it communicates a sense of fragility and at the same time strength. It is heavy to lug around but can easily be chipped or broken by a fingernail. My undergraduate 3-D teacher (whose artwork I've always admired), Georgia Strange had us create several plaster sculptures from cast blocks that we chiseled away at. Boy, was that intense and difficult. After a few hours of sculpting with a hammer and chisel my hands would be dry & aching and my ears would be ringing. At that point, I learned to really appreciate physically demanding art making. I started to think about not only the object but the effort and strength needed to create it.  What I'm doing now with plaster is much more fluid and easier on my hands. I don't feel like I'm fighting the materials. I've applied a thin layer of plaster to the substrate that I carved into while it was still wet. Then I did several washes and glazes over the textures, filling crevices and wiping the paint away from the high areas.

In the last 4 or 5 years, all of my work has related to biological structures and human reproduction either conceptually or in form. I have always been attracted to the intersections and overlaps of art and science. Circular elements or cells have crept in as a powerful part of my visual language. infinity, cyclical, building blocks of life, unity, clusters, organization, growth...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Intimacy and Voyeurism: The Public/Private Divide in Photography

I will be part of the Society of Photographic Educators(SPE) Women’s Caucus show at the California Institute of Integral Studies on Mission Street in San Francisco. The show is organized in conjunction with the 2012 National Conference, Intimacy and Voyeurism:  The Public/Private Divide in Photography.  The exhibition will be on view March 18 - 31, 2012.  Deirdre Visser, Curator of the ARTS at CIIS, is facilitating the exhibition. The show may  travel to other galleries over the year. The exhibition is part of the SPE conference self guided gallery tour on Friday, March 23. 

Three of my pieces were selected by the jurors Joyce Neimanas and Patrick Nagatani, both SPE Honored Educators. Thirty-six artists were  selected for the exhibition and all selected images are being uploaded here: https://www.spenational.org/members/liz-allen

Joyce Neimanas currently teaches in the photography department at the University of New Mexico.  She taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 35 years and has received numerous grants and awards including 3 National Endowment for the Arts Awards.  You can view her work at 

Patrick Nagatani was born in Chicago in 1945, just days after the Enola Gay bomber dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Born to Japanese-American parents that cataclysmic event has resonated throughout Nagatani's life and work, culminating in his series Nuclear Enchantment. Nagatani taught at the University of New Mexico retiring in 2007.  You can view his work at