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Audiology Inspired Arts

Helen Keller was often quoted as saying blindness separated her from objects, while deafness separated her from people. Communication is what makes us human, and the exchange of ideas inspires us to creativity.

As hearing professionals, we have a unique understanding and appreciation of something most people take for granted; the ability to hear.
It is this same appreciation that inspired artist David Allyn to create a ceramic tiled wall hanging piece titled ''Wall of 1000 Ears,'' which now hangs at Ear Service Corporation (ESCO) in Plymouth, MN.

aud_arts.gifAllyn, who received his Masters of Fine Art (MFA) at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, Rhode Island, completed the 4' x 10' mural with 386 tiles, shortly after graduation. ''Its a project Ive been thinking about for a while, but I had to wait until I finished teaching and going to school before I could complete it'' said Allyn. ''Because of the size of the piece, I was unable see it completely assembled until I actually hung it at ESCO, and I couldn't be more excited to see how well it fit into the site where it now hangs.''

At 30 years old, Allyn, a Wisconsin native, has an impressive list of accomplishments in the art world. His work has been displayed in galleries around the Midwest and the East Coast including several galleries in New York City. Allyn did his undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh studying under Dr. Paul Donhauser, a world-renowned artist that literally wrote the book on the history of American ceramics. ''Dr. Donhauser provided me with a technical understanding of ceramics, as well as inspiring me to bring other mediums into my work,'' said Allyn of his former professor. ''My experience at RISD exposed me to a whole different way of thinking about art and I was able to bring my work to whole new level. I was challenged by topics of critical review, which allowed me to bring a more conceptual approach to object making.''

Through his graduate work at RISD, Allyn was exposed to hot glass, advanced steel fabrication, photography, and various digital media, which added many skills to his artistic toolbox. ''The more Im able to draw from other mediums, the more I can expand upon how I use objects to convey concepts.''

Allyn's inspiration for the ''Wall of 1000 Ears'' comes from an interest he has in evolutionary science. ''Recent milestones in cochlear implants will serve as the stepping stone to a more intimate relationship between the body, computer sciences and robotics. Allyn noted, Ray Kurzwiel, an MIT professor, inventor and author, has addressed ''bridging the gap between humans and machines, allowing them to interface on a much more intimate level.''

The ''Wall of 1000 Ears'' is made from seven varieties of clay and porcelain. Every tile is hand made and modeled and then fired to the maturing temperature of the clay body. Surface embellishment was primarily left to the atmosphere of the kiln, with a scant amount of post-glazing application for accent. Mounted on 5 separate wooden stretchers the installation encompassed more than 40 square feet.

I believe the work does a fantastic job of pixilation for the viewer at a distance. Upon further inspection the work opens up to the viewer with an explosion of detail. Its gratifying for me to hear viewers talk about the different kinds of ears. When I hear that, I know Ive made an impact.

This is not Allyn's first hearing inspired work. The same theme whittled its way into a previous creation. ''One of my best friends growing up and in high school became influential to me in college. He opened the doors of technology for me, and now hes an audiologist and art collaborator. Communication has been a common thread in my work since my undergraduate training. My first ear inspired piece was exhibited at my senior thesis show at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1996. The work dealt mostly with topical issues of hearing and perception.

Allyn has generously donated his art to several of the Academy of Dispensing Audiologists (ADA) art auctions in the past through ESCO, and plans on continuing to do so in the future.

Currently, David Allyn is participating in an artist collaborative he co-founded in 2002, the Providence Initiative for Psychogeographic Studies (www.pipsworks.com). PIPS works to develop channels of communication between humans and the urban environment in various ways, like experimental public art and lost space interventions. When not collaborating, Allyn works with a community based non-profit organization to create a craft center in downtown Providence.

It started with a visit to a steelyard. The next thing I knew I was building a ceramics program and running community outreach programs. Allyns recent work Exploring the Micro Scale (People, Places, Things) was featured in the Kingston, New York Sculpture Biannual, which was juried by renowned sculpture Judy Pfaff. Other participating artists in the show included Sol La Witt and Mark DeSuvro.

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For more information, or to personally view the Wall of 100 Ears, please contact Anthony Lombardo, at ESCO.

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