Rik Allen, a Rhode Island native, moved to Washington in 1995 to work at Pilchuck Glass School and become a member of the William Morris sculpture team.
Allen still works in glass, but not exclusively. His recent sculptures incorporate steel and glass and mesh and other media in fantastical expressions of scientific apparatus. He has even made a glass-and-steel version of the starship Enterprise. Allen’s 8-foot-long Salish Sojourner, an improbably charming submarine on legs that suggests a meeting of minds between Elon Musk and Jules Verne by way of Rube Goldberg, commands pride of place in Bellevue Arts Museum’s BAM Biennial 2016: Metalmorphosis.
Susan Madacsi’s Pyrocumulus (detail), 2016. Forged and fabricated steel, aerosol enamel paints, wax; 48 x 98 x 1.5 inches.
For this edition of its Biennial, BAM received a record 330 applications from artists in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and British Columbia. Allen is one of 49 who made the cut in a selection process administered by four jurors. Simultaneously futuristic and antiquated in a steampunk way, Salish Sojourner invites up-close inspection, creating a sort of real-time metaphor for Allen’s exploration of self-examination and appreciation of the world around us.
Metalmorphosis is the fourth exhibition in the BAM Biennial series, which began in 2010 with Clay Throwdown and progressed through High Fiber Diet in 2012 and Knock on Wood in 2014. Jurors this year were Lloyd E. Herman of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, Suzanne Ramljak of Metalsmith magazine and the American Federation of Arts, Cindi Strauss of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Jennifer Navva Milliken from the Bellevue Arts Museum.
BAM BIENNIAL 2016: METALMORPHOSIS
Through February 5, 2017. Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue; 425.519.0770; bellevuearts.org.