William Allen has been working in the world of words and images for three decades. A child of Fluxus art, Concrete and political poetry, historical curiosities, he works in an ecphrastic, ecstatic tradition. That is to say, where words and images go hand in hand, where a state of awe is in the air. Like a nine-year old with a field guide and a magnifying glass, Bill curates language, taking apart taxonomies, recombining categorical knowledge in visual haiku, straining for nuggets of wisdom, precision, philosophy, or humor. Bill's work explores the formal quality of words, its acoustics and ambiguities. It seeks out the luxuriousness and languor of words joyfully lolling off the tongue. It’s an anti-narrative tradition looking for a story, a place, a body that is larger than its fragmented literary or linguistic arms and legs. This smart-art-meets-sign-painting is meticulous and meditative, where folk art and signature become the voice.
Bill's work has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, PS 1, Momenta Art, and the NYC subway, Harvard University, Williams College, Newark Art Museum, Norton Sculpture Gardens, and on the Buffalo metro bus lines. He is a recipient of a Queens Council on the Arts Fellowship (2012) for his Queens Street names paintings, and a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship (2009) for Bannister's Landscapes, a set of poems about the Providence, RI African-American Beaux Art painter with very telling titles for his paintings. His two published books of poems are The Man on the Moon (Persea and NYU Presses, 1987) and Sevastopol: On Photographs of War (Xenos Press, 1997). New poetry includes 21 Stations about the 7 train in New York and Linea Eins, about the German U-Bahn of the Berlin Wall. He is represented by Cade Tompkins Projects in Providence, RI.
Critical Art Practice - Social and Collaborative
Bill’s work is equally informed by a 21st century collaborative spirit and praxis (though he started in the 1980s), working often with artist collaborator Barbara Westermann, as well as at Momenta Art, RealArtways, Group Material and ARGO Group, which produced the beautiful Endless Landscapes print at Clay Street Press in Cincinnati, OH. New poetry willinclude 21 Stations about the 7 train in New York, Crossing Queensbridge, and Linea Eins, about the German U-Bahn of the Berlin Wall... new art work will evolve with with Good Fish-Bad Fish, Galaxies, and SMART CITIES.