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Glass Studio Visiting Artist: Rik Allen

Our thanks to Rik Allen for bringing his retro-futuristic rocket visions to life while working live before our Studio audience March 3-6, 2016.

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Shown here are selected works by Rik Allen and you can click the images to enlarge. Note that surfaces which appear to be a metal are actually blown glass that was later covered with a metallic powder or foils.

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Allen arrived at the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington state in 1995 and spent more than a decade working as a team member for one of the giants in glass art, William Morris. His reputation for exceptional glass finishing skills grew during this time, and in 2005 he and his artist wife established their own glass and sculpture studio. The two have placed works in top collections around the world and have traveled extensively to teach glass technqiues to students of the craft.

His work is clearly influenced by science and visions of space travel, but Allen says there is more at work here than what's immediately obvious. One key is that it's not sleekly futuristic. It's a vision of the future from the past.

"My work is as much about outer space as inner space," he said. "At first glance, the work may seem to be all about the exploration of the cosmos, but a closer look reveals more humble elements that speak of memory and transparency, revealing inner and outward perspectives.

"By incorporating elements that appear worn and experienced, as well as vestiges of an earlier era, I hope to give the work a sense of experimentation, invention, and exploration," he continued. "My intent is to open up the imaginations of viewers whose own narratives shift as their minds move from exterior perspective of these vessels to inner possibilities."

As befitting a space-inspired artist, during his time in Virginia, Allen visited with NASA scientists in our area. His work to create what NASA Langley Research Center engineers call a MMSEV is shown below. The real-life version of what he was building is scheduled to explore Mars in the late 2030s.