photo: courtesy of the artistOn Making Art
Terry Allen's art demonstrates an unusual mixture of media as well as a particular regional perspective. His unorthodox approach to art-making, employing images, text, and sometimes sound, often for narrative effect, derives in part from his upbringing in the West Texas town of Lubbock. Its southwestern storytelling culture deeply influenced the direction of his art.
All of Allen's works in American Kaleidoscope belong to his "Youth in Asia" series. They represent a stream-of-consciousness, multimedia exploration of the aftereffects of the Vietnam War on veterans and the society to which they returned. Like the pun in the title of the series, the visual and verbal material seeks to stimulate new meanings and connections beyond those that are overtly stated. Allen's art has a disarming down-home quality that draws the viewer into experiencing the often disturbing ideas that underlie his work.
Rather than focusing on actual events, this series concentrates on the remembrance of war, particularly in the context of veterans returning to the American Southwest. Allen's creations are painful reminders of the suffering and divisiveness that made the Vietnam War a national trauma that continues to shape our outlook and identity as Americans.