Known for her richly layered and chromatically nuanced abstract paintings, Rebecca Allan has for many years concentrated on rivers, tributaries, and watershed environments as primary sources of investigation. Her work explores the ecology, meteorology, and geology of the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and the Gulf Coast. Working from a studio that overlooks the Harlem and Hudson Rivers in New York City, Allan is inspired by a deep appreciation for the beauty of the natural environment overlaid with an awareness of its fragility and endangerment.
"My paintings are rooted in the changing cycles of nature as well as a deep curiosity about science, and the forces underlying what we observe on the surface of things. Even when it is grounded in the visible world, a painting is a sensual invention that conflates real and conjured experiences. I prepare my pigments and layer color over time — in response to observed and felt experience. The language of color is a sanctuary within which the questions and problems of artmaking — indeed, of life — are confronted. I work within a transcendental American landscape tradition that includes painters such as Frederic Church, Charles Burchfield, Joan Mitchell, and Neil Welliver but I also draw from the works of Renaissance masters such as Giovanni di Paola and Pieter Breughel in my desire to invent a new, cosmological landscape."
Exhibiting in the United States and abroad for more than 25 years, Allan's most recent solo exhibitions were presented at: ArtLab78 (New York), The American Church in Paris, Ringling College of Art and Design/Longboat Key Center for the Arts; Seattle Art Museum Gallery; John Davis Gallery (Hudson, NY); and Gallery 2/20 (New York). Allan has been a Fellow at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.
Allan received her MFA from Kent State University and BA from Allegheny College.
She studied painting in Le Puy Notre Dame, France, with Richard Kleeman; ethnobotany in
the San Juan Islands with Dr. Ryan Drum; and botanical illustration with Louise M. Smith.
An esteemed educator for more than 25 years, Allan has taught painting, drawing, art history
and writing at Purchase College, New York Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, Cornish College of the Arts, Gage Academy of Art, Allegheny College, Heritage Institute at Antioch University, Seattle Art Museum, and Frye Art Museum. From 1998 to 2003 Allan was an artist-in-education with the Washington State Arts Commission. From 2006–2014 Allan was Head of Education at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture in New York City where she curated the exhibition-related programs for the BGC Gallery.
In 2011, Rebecca Allan completed Horizon Lines, a series of paintings based upon six watershed environments that were incorporated within the performance of a newly commissioned work by composer Laura Kaminsky for the 2011 Seattle Chamber Society Summer Festival. In 2012, she lectured in Russia as a guest artist at the St. Petersburg Academy of Art and Design. In 2010, she participated in a performance/conversation, "Jazz Improvization and the Visual Impulse," at the Philoctetes Center for the Study of Imagination.