Alison Owen


My installations highlight what is typically overlooked, so that neglected materials become valuable. I want to show people that spaces can be transformed through creative, responsible consumption: most materials are found on site, much is scavenged, once deemed worthless. Using the dust that I sweep from the site, the old frames and pedestals found in gallery storerooms, and the simple hardware and installation materials in toolboxes, I create installations that are deeply embedded in architecture of the room. I also interact with the people who have relationships with the space, who inhabit, exhibit, or work in it, meeting with them and gathering objects that are used to generate further compositions within the space.

I intend to draw viewers into a more interactive relationship with architecture, to think about their own spaces and the history of the ones they visit. My work is built upon on conversations and collaboration with people in specific places; through it I bring together a community of people and provide a context for interaction, exploration, and delight.

(statement in progress)

Through a process of research that involves observing the environment over a matter of days or weeks, I note the social, architectural, and natural elements that comprise the heart of a space, the heart of an experience. From this initial survey I create installations and objects with a variety of found materials. I use string and tape to trace shadows across the wall, or mimic the forms of windows with snap chalk. I fill shelves, pedestals, and vitrines with found materials, looking for visual resonance and meaning between overlapped or adjacent objects.

Much of what I work with is found on site, gathered during the process of cleaning and exploring an exhibition space. I gather up the fragments and discards of other artists’ practices (often artists who are working with me on residencies or in adjacent studios), recombining them and giving them new life. I’m interested in bringing the periphery to the center- in taking all of the paper scraps, paint rags, to-do lists, source material from the studio spaces and putting it into the gallery, to show a different take on studio practice and artmaking.

I also use found text: I isolate the underlined portions of my friends’ or my own books and type them onto found postcards, or create new versions of books by combining and overlapping text.“To-do” is a sprawling installation made from other people’s to do lists and notes. I asked my friends and colleagues to send me pages from the notes app on their phones, and have created physical versions of this digital ephemera. With some distance, divorced from context, these notes take on new meanings. They become like little poems, dream-fragments, typed onto various papers that I’ve collected in my studio over the years.

In this way my practice is something of a collaboration, as I allow the marks and acts of another artist to influence my own composition. I’m seeking the poetic possibilities in fragments and cast-offs. There is accidental poetry in the underlined phrases of borrowed books, hints of another person’s sensibility in their detritus. There is a thrifty and ad-hoc quality to my process, but my marks are intentional, quiet responses to the existing materials.

A lot of my practice is based in community connections- I run 30 day art challenges, make site specific installations in people’s homes, send out postcards with text from books that have been recommended to me (sort of a long-distance book club), use materials that I collect from other artists. I am always looking for ways that my own experiences resonate and overlap with that of other people. I would like my art making to be inclusive, to gather in practicing artists and hobbyists, friends, relatives, colleagues, strangers. I ask questions, solicit advice – recommendations, playlists, booklists – in the hopes of allowing the experience of others to accompany me as I make my way through the world.