Interview with Ricky Allman

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Courtesy of Ricky Allman

Courtesy of Ricky Allman

Ricky Allman graduated with his associate degree in Fine Arts from UVSC in 2003. He then went on to receive his BFA in Painting at the Massachusetts College of Art and his MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design. Allman’s art has been featured in galleries across the country as well as in various national publications. He is currently Assistant Professor of Painting/Drawing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Check out his Web site for more information.

1.  What was your experience at UVU like?

It was pretty cool, pretty radical, pretty fetchin’ sweet. So to sum it up: rad, cool and sweet. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I got there, but the faculty in the art department (especially Hyunmee Lee) were so great, they helped me immensely. They helped me recognize and develop my talents and pretty much set me on my career path. I remember going to NYC for the first time with the art department which was very influential for me. I also met my wife there, so my time at UVSC was filled with art and romance- sweet, sweet romance.

2.  Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from?

Most of my ideas I can trace back to growing up in Utah- visually the mountains and the LDS temples have been a huge influence. Conceptually I am fascinated by “end of days” prophecies of the Mormon church and those who take those doctrines to the extreme like the FLDS church. The idea of hastening and ushering in the end of the world is simultaneously repulsive and intriguing. Therefore I use a lot of opposing elements in my work to speak to those type of contradictions, like natural vs man made, interiors vs exteriors, construction vs deconstruction, sacred vs profane, and any others that catch my fancy.

3.  What artists do you admire?

I always get excited by what my friends are doing- Chris Purdie, Shawn Bitters, Chris Allman, Casey Jex Smith, Mark Schoening, Matt Bollinger, Ziad Naccache. As far as artists that I wished were my friends- I love Sarah Sze, Matthew Barney, Peter Doig, Allison Schulnik, Tomory Dodge and a million more. Well probably not a million more, a thousand? We better go with a hundred, I don’t need the FCC all up in my business.

4.  How would you define “good art”?

It’s a lot like music and movies, sometimes I’ll see or hear something and am not sure how I feel about it but then it sticks with me and resonates in some way. The longer something stays with me and impacts how I think and feel the better it is. Very good art is often difficult to understand and takes time to process. If it has the power to challenge me both intellectually and emotionally I know it is special.  Something can be very well done technically, but if there is nothing in the work to keep me engaged I don’t care for it. I’m also a sucker for beauty.

5.  Would you ever consider changing the spelling of “mermaid” to “myrmaed”?  Because I have.

That sounds like either a Welsh thing or a 1970’s hardcore feminist thing. I like Wales and I like feminism but I’m also into economical and straight forward spellings so I’m torn about this.

6.  Albert Camus said, “A guilty conscience needs to confess.  A work of art is a confession.”  Ricky, what are you guilty of and what is it that you are confessing?

He also said: “Staring down the barrel at the Arab on the ground, I can see his open mouth, but I hear no sound…” or was that the Cure?  Either way there is probably some truth to that. I think subconsciously a lot of my art has been about coming to terms with the issues I have had with the Mormon faith (being raised in the church) and how I reconcile those with my own contradictory beliefs, so in my paintings you will see a lot of churches surging with chaos and instability. I didn’t recognize it until after the fact, but I think there are some implicit confessions in there.