Artist Spotlight: Blair Allen

Blair Allen is senior with a penchant for photography and devastation. This week’s Artist’s Spotlight gives you some insight into the mind behind the camera.Where are you from, and what is your major?

I am from Arlington Heights, Ill. and am majoring in studio art and psychology.

How did you first get involved with your current work?

The work I am currently doing developed out of trips to Louisiana that I took after the initial spring break trip last year. I was not sure what to expect and brought my camera with just to document the trip. Nothing of interest really came out of that trip in terms of my work, although when I returned in the summer to a much more rural part of Louisiana, it did not take but a walk down the street, or a turn to where I was living, for me to create an image that captures the feel of this place I had grown so attached to.

What have been your main influences?

I was initially inspired to pursue photography here at Lawrence by Julie Lindemann and John Shimon through taking several of their classes and seeing their passion for black-and-white photography, antiquarian processes, and the darkroom. I am also constantly inspired by Magnum photographers such as James Nachtwey, Larry Towell and Susan Meiselas in their dedication and risks they take to cover devastation so that it can be seen.

Do you have any showings coming up?

I have a show in the Mudd Gallery that opened on Thursday and will be up until the 23rd of April. The show is a body of work compiled over three trips I have taken to volunteer in Louisiana doing relief work.

What kind of photography do you like to work with?

I really enjoy working in black and white. My show in the Mudd this week is solely digital prints, because I have been experimenting with all of the equipment and opportunities that have been made available to me as a student.

What are you trying to accomplish with your art?

I feel that photography has become so accessible, so that everyone is now a photographer. Images exist of almost anything you can think of. What keeps my work going is the desire to share the things that I witness and that have an impact on my life. My pictures attempt to represent the vivid, shifting reality and memories of my own personal experiences – not from the perspectives of politicians or newsreels, but from my own perspective of an individual on the ground.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now my plan is to graduate in June and then walk across Spain. That is as far as I’ve gotten with the planning.