Lincolnwood artist featured at Village Hall
Diane Allen's art is being featured at Village Hall. | Contributed photo
Updated: April 22, 2013 2:46AM
Lifelong Lincolnwood resident Diane Allen is one of three local artists being featured through the end of February in a show entitled “Indoors/Outdoors” at the Village Hall art gallery.
Allen’s colorful pieces capture tranquil, peaceful scenes and through an imaginary window transport the viewer to a fantasy world.
Allen, a former police officer and retired teacher, has produced art in sculpture, art and pastels, and many of her pieces have been featured in exhibits around the Chicago area. Outside of creating her personal work, during her retirement she has volunteered to teach art at a youth home in Chicago serving teens with mental illnesses.
Her exhibit at village hall, entitled “Inside and Out,” was created using assemblage and applied art methods.
Allen told the Lincolnwood Review about living in Lincolnwood for more than half a century and what it takes to create her custom-made masterpieces.
Q: What year did you move to Lincolnwood? What do you like best about living here?
A: My family moved to Lincolnwood in 1955. I attended Lincoln Hall School, and back then Proesel Park was a working farm. Lincolnwood seemed like the end of the world back then, as there was very little construction beyond the Chicago borders during the 1950s. Lincolnwood was a wonderful place to grow up. As kids we could play outdoors day and night in complete safety in beautiful open areas. After I raised my family my husband and I decided to downsize from a house to a condo. We’ve chosen to stay in Lincolnwood as it still has a small town feel.
Q: How does your upbringing in Lincolnwood reflect in your work?
A: A lot of my inspiration is taken from scenes and experiences in Lincolnwood. I still remember the wide open spaces that encompassed the community during my youth. I’m blessed to have grown up in such a lovely place. I’m proud of my village and the people who live here. To have my art displayed in the community I live in means more to me than to someone who is just exhibiting and doesn’t have a connection with Lincolnwood.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration?
A: I’ve had many discussions with various people that there is a need to bring an outdoor feeling into rooms without windows like recreation rooms, basements and even powder rooms. I started by creating an actual frame made of aged barn wood and decorative metal. Then I added photographs to the “outdoor areas” behind the frames and added curtains made of macramé to complete the feeling of looking through a real window.
Q: How are your window art pieces created?
A: The photographs I use were taken in the Lincolnwood area — some are actual views from my condo and others are of forests, fields and beach views. The photos are treated so they may hang in humid areas like in a spa. I make the macramé curtains by hand. Macrame is a great media because every stitch is individually tied so it may be cut anywhere and it won’t unravel. I use colored threads or natural fibers to get different effects.
Q: How long do your pieces take to create?
A: Each piece is custom-made and creative time varies. After crafting the frame I then think of what photo will best complement the type and texture of the frame, and then I create the macramé, which takes time. I usually turn out one piece per month.
Q: What places in the Chicago area have featured your art?
A: I’ve exhibited at several hotels in the downtown area, but I have a manager who sets up my gallery shows because I don’t always like to know where my art is going — it’s actually hard to give pieces up because it feels like giving a piece of your heart away. I remember my first exhibit at the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago. I was standing by when the first painting was sold and the new owner walked away with the piece. I felt like I lost a child.
Q: You’re a believer in using art as a type of therapy. How does this work?
A: People often lose themselves when creating an art project. Just whirling finger paints does wonders. Sometimes the only way a person can communicate their feelings is through using different media, materials, textures and colors. You don’t have to be able to draw like an expert in order to communicate your inner feelings. Art lets a person express things they cannot put into words. It can have a calming effect just to know you are telling your own personal story the best way you can.
Allen attended National Louis University where she earned degrees in art history and education. She also graduated from the Chicago Police Academy.