In his series, Getting Lost, currently on view at Nationale gallery in Portland, Oregon, Delaney Allen's still lifes, studio portraiture, and landscapes communicate his experience of profound grief. While diaristic work of this nature can often risk being overly inward, Allen effectively employs untraditional editing methods to build a narrative of his personal struggles that is both aesthetically mysterious and heartbreakingly real.
Allen began making this work in response to a brief yet massive wave of personal loss. Over the course of four months both of his grandparents passed away, a romantic relationship dissolved and his cat died in his arms. Searching for a means of coping, he looked to Rebecca Solnit's book A Field Guide to Getting Lost which helped inspire him to make photographs as one of the most effective forms of therapy. "In exploring those thoughts, as well as needing to reset myself mentally, I found going on long drives exploring new areas I’d never visited and also opening up my mind to see where it could go to be therapeutic."
On the surface the work might appear to be a pastiche of various popular movements in photography: wind swept photographs of national parks paired with jarring,sculptural, harshly lit studio shots. With a closer look, however, it's apparent that each of these seemingly disparate images are actually intense personal cues to Allen's methods of coping. In his studio still lifes, fabric, flowers, and other ephemeral details serve as what he describes as memorials, or "chaotic alters to bygone loves." In his photos of the atmosphere and American landscape, there is a sense of longing that is strangely both distant and nostalgic.
For Allen, this style of combining outwardly unrelated imagery on the same plane is essential to communicating his story. "With this method," says Allen, "the important aspect is to build the series from a sense of story or mood I want to portray. In doing so, it gives me the ability to expand to use all these different ways in which I shoot."
Born in Fort Worth, TX, Delaney Allen received his MFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2010. His photographs have been shown nationally and internationally. He was listed in Magenta’s Flash Forward emerging photographers list of 2013 and attended photographer Alec Soth’s Camp For Socially Awkward Storytellers that same year. His first publication, Between Here And There, was listed on PhotoEye Magazine’s “Best Of” list for 2010. Allen currently lives and works in Portland, OR, where he is represented by Nationale. Follow him on Instagram @delaney_allen