These Sculptures Are Born of Love

Relationships: An exhibition of sculpture by Fern Cunningham Allen. Presented by The Gallery and The Great Black Art Collection, 303 Columbus Ave., on exhibit through October 1.

by Jeanne Belovitch

Allen's sculptures are born of love. The thirteen pieces in this exhibit speak of her feelings in a language that is sensitive and dramatic.

She says, "I am aware of a life force so great, so overwhelming, that through love, it creates all things. When, like breath flowing through a flute, this force fills my being with passion and persistence, I must submit. Like a musician, I play the notes and a work of art is formed."

Allen molds and carves these feelings into realistic sculptures that express joy, strength, comfort and quiet moments between family members.

In her work Family Totem sculpted from a sizeable piece of wood, Allen gives us a full faced man on one side, a full faced woman on the opposite side, and a young boy and girl beneath their chins. When one walks around the piece and takes in the entire sculpture, there is a clear sense of unity.

Baby Talk done in plaster, expresses that special communication that exists between mother and child. Time seems to stand still as mother and baby look at one another, the baby a mirror of the mother's expression.

Allen has not neglected fathering in her work. The father's custom of throwing a small baby into the air is captured beautifully in Father's Day. A father lying on his back, with his offspring held lovingly in the air is beautifully captured in this bronze piece.

In all her work, Allen is exceptionally detailed, even down to the shoe laces of a young boy she sculpted.

Fatigued after a long run, the boy relaxes on a park bench legs sprawled and face looking to the sky with an expression of self-satisfaction..

A departure from Allen's theme is a work of clay titled Cry the Hungry Children. This piece features a mound of skeletal faces and bodies clinging to one another. The work is powerful enough to convey even the "cries and whispers" of these children.

Born in Manhattan, Allen was educated in Alaska, Albany, and L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Fountainbleau, France. A graduate of Boston University's School of Fine Arts, she has received several notable commissions for public sculptures including Save the Children, cast in concrete for Boston's SummerThing program; Bust of A. Philip Randolph, done in bronze on marble; Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, an historical cement relief sculpture completed for the Mattapan Arts Council, and My Sister, cast in aluminum for the Black United Fund.

Source: South End News, Boston, MA; 1984