Cowgirl Up! | Maura Allen

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

Walkin’ in the Canyon, serigraph on wood, 60 x 40 x 2.

Sculptor and printmaker Maura Allen was born and raised in the West, and today the Colorado-based artist is known for her fresh, contemporary take on both the region and its people. “What’s not to love about the wide-open spaces and blue skies? It feels like freedom here,” Allen says. “When I see a horse in the West, I see freedom and speed. And that’s what I like to explore in my work.”

A dedicated black-and-white photographer for the past three decades, Allen uses her photographic images as the starting point for her works, which often feature cowboy, rodeo, and horse subject matter. Viewers can also expect Allen to push the boundaries of traditional printmaking. In fact, an observer once dubbed her “the Warhol of the West,” in part because she uses the same serigraph process but with a regional sensibility. There is one difference, however. Warhol used other people’s images, while Allen uses her own original photographs in the creative process.

In her serigraph WALKIN’ IN THE CANYON, which is on display in the Cowgirl Up show, Allen creates a larger-than-life depiction of a plant native to the West. Always interested in exploring how different materials work together, Allen also has a multimedia sculpture in the show; the piece is made of iron and ceramic elements. In RANCH RINGS, she has actually printed on the clay and then sculpted the material. “I am interested in using different materials in the printing process and pushing it in new directions,” she says.

Allen describes her approach to her work as experimental and says she draws inspiration from a mix of well-known artists and photographers, including Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Diebenkorn, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. She is represented by Gallery MAR, Park City, UT; Visions West Gallery, Bozeman and Livingston, MT, and Denver, CO; and Mountain Trails Gallery, Jackson, WY;

Featured in March 2012.