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September 2011

Coker College in Hartsville, SC, Features Works by James Allen

Coker College in Hartsville, SC, is presenting the exhibit, Signs of Life: Cut-Out Paintings, featuring works by painter James Allen, Daemen College Professor Emeritus, on view in the Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery through Sept. 16, 2011.

“There are no heroes or villains in my paintings,” explains Allen, “only ordinary people attempting to get through trying circumstances, large or small, provoking the actions or inactions that shape their identities. I strive to combine the impact of a human presence with a painterly surface rich in anomaly, one that conveys a sense of transience and mutability, even vulnerability.”

The pieces feature cut-out canvas figures - virtually life-size in scale - the shaped forms of which are mounted as ensembles on the wall. The empty wall serves as a timeless, generalized place where the narrative of the piece unfolds.

“In some sense these works operate similarly to sculpture, in that the human figure is allowed to communicate a condition of life by the power of gesture and expression and the formal qualities of the surface, exclusive of elaboration of an environment,” Allen said.

“My work is socially oriented,” adds Allen. “It’s about human circumstances and conditions about which I feel quite deeply. I hope that when visitors stand in front of a piece they will be struck deeply enough that they will pause to contemplate their own reactions to the circumstances involved.”

While Allen says much of the subject matter in the exhibition involves fairly difficult issues such as war and conflict, one piece takes a humorous twist. The artist says that he is always curious about which piece will connect most strongly with any given viewer.

Allen has taught drawing and painting for more than forty years and holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Notre Dame, and an MFA from Wayne State University. He has exhibited his work in venues across the United States and in Canada, winning awards and purchase prizes in regional and national exhibitions.

Coker College upholds and defends the intellectual and artistic freedom of its faculty and students as they study and create art through which they explore the full spectrum of human experience. The college considers such pursuits central to the spirit of inquiry and thoughtful discussion, which are at the heart of a liberal arts education.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the gallery at 843/383-8156 or visit (


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