Marie Hélène Allain uses stone and metal to trace the spiritual quest of human existence. Choosing materials that symbolize elements of her Acadian heritage, Allain’s sculpture is deeply personal. Her assemblages are testaments to the human creative spirit, which, though bounded by time and place, is always yearning for communion with the divine.
Marie Hélène Allain’s artistic career spans many decades, including solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Embracing a religious calling at an early age, her artistic work traces the deep spiritual path of life. Her career as educator and mentor has made her a leader in the Acadian community. She is represented in numerous public collections, among them the Canada Council Art Bank, the New Brunswick Art Bank, the New Brunswick Museum, l’Universite de Moncton, and the City of Moncton. The book, Marie Hélène Allain: The Symbolism of Stone, by Carolle Gagnon, is a new major publication on the artist and her work.
After receiving the Strathbutler Award, Allain was invited to sit on the Board of Directors of the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation and remains a dedicated steward of Sheila Mackay’s legacy.
In the artist’s words
I have always been fascinated with found objects, particularly objects that nature, time or human work has eroded and that wear their history etched in the folds of their skin, so to speak. A strange sensation that I cannot define compels me to gather them for my future works.
I let this sensation float until it brings to my mind some particular combination that in turn suggests other ideas. Yet incomplete, the work slowly gains meaning, personality and suggests a symbolism that becomes gradually more refined and guides the rest of the creation. More and more frequently though, a concept comes to my mind first and then all its components unfold as in my last works. In short, the concept is found intuitively; the idea, first confused yet strongly felt, develops and gradually becomes clearer as the work takes shape and vice versa. It seems that I can complete my works only by following faithfully my intuition, my deep feelings, my dreams. Every time, the completed work will reveal a personal concern connected to a situation or a state of our present society.
My present concerns and interests could be described as follows:
- the strength of nature confronting the strength of the human mind that creates various changes affecting our planet;
- the vital forces that express themselves in different ways on our planet; and
- the responsibility of human beings confronted with those dramatic powers surrounding us and living inside of us.