By suspending creatures in moments of tension and recalling the myths and legends with which they are associated, Shelley Muzylowski Allen reminds us that nature is precious and in many ways fleeting. From the red gazelle to Asian and African elephants, some of her subjects face extinction or have been forever lost in the tides of time, taking with them some of humanity’s finest qualities.
Relying upon her background as a painter and an understanding of anatomy, Muzylowski Allen creates impressionistic or contemplative expressions and vignettes. In combination with sumptuous coloring and the acid etched surfaces of glass, her forms inspire a remarkable and powerful influence on human feeling.
Born in Manitoba, Canada, Muzylowski Allen never considered working with glass until a co-worker remarked that her paintings would translate well to three dimensions. After taking a course at Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, it quickly became evident that the artist had found in hot glass the perfect material for her painterly approach. Her textures, patterns, and gesture of brushwork enrich strong, three-dimensional forms.
Muzylowski Allen worked with the William Morris sculpture team in Washington State as a glass sculpting assistant from 1998 through 2004. In 2005, she established a glass and sculpture studio with her husband, artist Rik Allen, at their property in Skagit County, Washington. The couple has taught internationally at the Toyama Institute of Glass in Japan; Nuutajarvii Lasikyla, Finland; and the International Glass Festival in Stourbridge, England, as well as in the US at the Penland School of Craft; Pittsburgh Glass Center; and at Pilchuck.
Muzylowski Allen has been awarded Provincial and Canada Council grants. Her work is held nationally and internationally in public institutions and private collections. In 2008, she had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, Washington, Modern Menagerie. Other selected shows include The San Juan Museum of Art, northwest Washington; Blue Rain Gallery, Santa Fe and Scottsdale; Habatat Galleries, Michigan; Traver Gallery, Seattle; and Schantz Galleries, Massachusetts. In 2012, Muzylowski Allen was a guest artist at Studio Salvadore in Murano, Italy, where she collaborated with artist Davide Salvadore on a series of large-scale sculptures.
Whether living things such as the beloved and revered horse or creatures associated with magic and mythology such as the unicorn, Muzylowski Allen renders her menagerie in states of grace, repose, or movement. They are transitory, by their choice or by ours. These archetypal symbols reflect not only the artist’s insights and experiences but inspire a deeply emotional connection for the viewer.