Allen Ball, BA (Honours), MVA, is Associate Professor, Painting, in the Department of Art and Design, and Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Arts, at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Born in London, United Kingdom, Allen completed his undergraduate training at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts (achieving First Class Honours in Painting and a commendation in Printmaking). As a Commonwealth Scholar, he graduated from the University of Alberta Master of Visual Arts program. An active visual artist and researcher, Allen has been honoured to receive awards from the Killam Trusts, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and Canada of Council of the Arts, among others, and is a Canadian War Artist, having served in the Sinai Pennisula in 2017. Allen’s works can be found in public and private local, national, and international collections, and have been featured in galleries throughout Canada, the United Kingdom, and Korea.
Allen’s painting practice is marked by discrete series that arise from conceptual and discursive ideas, particularly relating to subjectivity and representation. Always drawing on personal experiences and resisting a “signature” painting style, he consistently seeks methodologies that realize the crux of conceptual ideas. His projects reference photographic sources, often incorporating visual cultures beyond the Western canon of art, from decorative arts and abstract symbolism to religious iconography. This exploratory approach has driven him to screen-based projects, public art, photography, film, video, and digitally-mediated imagery. Across his works, Allen embraces opportunities to experience art as a socially intrinsic process.
Projects include: Photography in a State of Exception (2011), a solo exhibition of large-scale, multi-media installation at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) of images from Allen’s time as an embedded official Canadian War Artist with Canadian Forces Operation Calumet in the Sinai Peninsula in 2007; The Wordless Book and other deserts (2012), a series of paintings and large scale photographs that interrogate the associative power of colour through Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s nonverbal evangelical device the Wordless Book; and, Sight Unseen (2013), a site-specific, still and moving image art installation at the Multicultural Centre Public Art Gallery, Stony Plain, Alberta, that interweaves subject/object, seeing/seen, active/passive through specific moments in art history to interrogate multiple, sometimes contradictory experience(s) of viewing art.
His collaborative works include: The German Autumn in Minor Spaces (2008), a photographic and screen-based exploration of the radical Badermeinhoff gang, with Dr. Kimberly Mair (Department of Sociology, University of Lethbridge); Consumption (2013), a mural co-created with Dr. WenJuan Huang, as part of his tenure as Scholar in Residence for Arts Research in Nanotechnology at the National Institute for Nanotechnology; Moving on (2014), a video installation with Alysha Creighton commissioned by Boyle Street Art Projections representing the realities and particularities of the inner city Boyle Street neighbourhood in Edmonton, Alberta. More recently, his series of paintings St. Mark’s Church – Through a Window was presented in the two-person exhibition InterCity (2016) with Kim Sala at the McMullen Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta.