Stacy Peterson

Associate Curator and Registrar at the Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque Iowa

Dixon, Illinois photographer Les Allen constructs meticulous still life scenes out of curious objects and uses these surreal creations to make black and white silver gelatin photographs, 22 of which will  be on view for his upcoming solo exhibition.  Although it is important for Allen “to invent and construct (his) own ephemeral worlds from scratch ”as part of his creative process, the production of the actual photograph carries equal significance in his art.  Despite many challenges, artists who continue the tradition of film photography do so for the love of the medium, where they are a part of the final product and the physical print itself remains a product of their hands. With Allen’s images, the subjects he photographs are also products of his hands. As he collects and creates objects that spark his curiosity, he assembles them into one-of -a-kind arrangements, resembling a stage set or diorama and photographs them using dramatic lighting effects. Working in black and white focuses attention on the shapes and details in the scene and gives images a nostalgic quality mirroring the nostalgia of traditional film photography.

 Les Allen has been actively involved in traditional photography for over 45 years. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, earning his BFA degree in painting and drawing and his MFA degree in filmmaking and photography. For 35 years he taught art full-time in public high schools where he developed and greatly expanded the photography program in his school district. Concurrently he taught for the Young Artists’ Studios at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was instrumental in developing their outdoor art education programs. Allen also taught at the College of DuPage, Moraine Valley Community College and Governor's State University. In 1986 he awarded the Kohl Foundation International Award for Exemplary Teaching. Now retired, Allen spends his time teaching classes for the Young Artists’ Studios Program at The Next Picture Show in Dixon Illinois, sponsored by the Viva Arts Foundation and is pursuing his life-long passion of  fine art film photography.
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