Allison Ward has been an artistic force in Tulsa for years. Whether it be through music as the front-person for the now defunct local band Tom Boil, through community by creating art house shows to showcase local art when no one else is, or by creating her own art. You can see Ward's art at Liggett Studios, 314 S Kenosha Ave., until Nov. 7.
Learn about the exhibit, her pieces and what to expect from her in the future below.
Tell me about your exhibit "My Left, You're Right." What was your inspiration? I work through gestural abstract expressionism using encaustic wax and various collage mediums. Through the series “My Left, You’re Right” the idea was to explore thoughts deployed by clinical diagnosis. More specifically speaking to times of complete mental distraction, isolation, disassociation, and defeat. In this, I conceptually display thoughts as a person living day to day with mental health issues. Using gathered materials from my time spent in a mental health facility, reflecting on the things which brought me there. Essentially using each canvas as a sounding board to splay my thoughts and emotions decisively, in the moment, with a sense of catharsis.
Using collage aspects in my work is essential, it offers a chance to take something from one context into another. Using clippings from old books, magazines, papers, really anything, to create my own narrative. The work in this show is hung next to Austin Gober’s acrylic paintings. While we both work in abstraction, I feel the pieces complement each other in their sense of chaos. His work is controlled while mine is fairly wild and uninhibited.
What do you hope an observer gains from your art? I hope, like with most things I create, that the viewer feels a sense of understanding. Knowing that you are not alone in your own thoughts and mental demise. It’s easy to feel isolated. Knowing you’re not the only one battling cerebral numbness is sometimes vital for survival.
A majority of the pieces in this series were made at a truly low point in my life. I was lost and needed someone or something to put my thoughts and emotions into. While serious in nature, I like to think that several of the pieces are also satirical. Dealing with things through humor (whether appropriate or not) can be a healing mechanism.
Most of the pieces have a serious tone, even dark. But there is a bit of comedy sprinkled in through the collage elements once you look a little more closely, through the layers of wax and paint. You see something real and recognizable. Comparable to peeling back layers within people.
How does it feel to have your work showcased when you are so used to hosting community art shows to showcase other artists? It feels weird and slightly selfish, honestly! I run “Art House Shows" around Tulsa with my best friend Rogelio Esparza where we display 10-15 artists work at a time. Getting to curate those shows is truly different than showing work I’ve created.
Displaying my own work is MUCH more nerve racking. However, I would say curating shows is similar to collage in the idea that you’re taking lots of different pieces to create a whole story in a different context and setting.
Do those community art showcases impact your own work? I wouldn’t say they directly impact the work itself. It does give me a better sense of how to interact with gallery owners and curators from the perspective of an artist.
The shows I curate also really motivate me to be creative and stay active in the Tulsa art scene. There are so many different things going on with art in Tulsa and so much talent. It keeps me motivated to continue honing my craft and the vision I have for my current and future projects.
Anything else you want to add? “My Left, You’re Right” is at Liggett Studios in Tulsa until Nov. 7. The gallery is open Thursdays from 5 p.m.-9 p.m., Fridays from 4 p.m.-9 p.m., and Saturdays from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Also, watch out for a bigger and better Art House Show gallery in winter of 2021!