Allison Bolah was born in Alberta, Canada. Her installations include photographs, multimedia and paper-based work. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Allison participates in collaborative and educational artistic endeavors that join community and academic work with her studio practice. She has spearheaded multidisciplinary group shows and artist professional development workshops, presented her research at various symposia, developed book arts projects as the Minnesota Center for Book Arts Collegiate Fellow, and is a recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant in support of her project Tell Me About Your Mother.
My interdisciplinary practice draws on my experiences in literature and photography; in installations of video, sound, and paper-based objects, I document the ways gesture and language are shaped into specific narratives. Themes of reflection – literal and figurative – are also a feature of my work and I play with their ability to form and disturb ideas of self and place.
The human drive to build complete narratives out of tiny bits of information is as important to my work as are the ways a variety of media structure my finished pieces. I read text, context, and subtext via our assumptions about elements as seemingly minuscule as the title of a photograph, film, or passage of words. My work aims to subtly draw awareness to our reliance on absent information and non-verbal communication in creating and understanding narratives.
Throughout my work, I privilege my personal history and relationships. My lived experiences, who and where, how and why – and my perspectives on them – matter immensely. I take into account that, as a middle class North American Black woman, the experiences that facilitate my practice are politically charged. I modify the terms of African American theorist and activist W. E. B. Du Bois’s notion of double-consciousness and am aware of my work’s meanings in mainstream society, but focus on its dialogues with my communities. Thus, I seek opportunities to show my work in non-traditional spaces.