Credit Line: Commissioned by University Museums. Iowa Art in State Buildings Project for the Recreation Facilities Expansion. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Terry Allen's works of art challenge the viewer to have a reaction, be it emotional, mental or physical. In A Public Perception, the meanings of simple words, most of them short, take on additional dimensions based on their color and location; for example, the word SWEAT in yellow in a very warm swimming area, or HEAVEN, NOW WHAT? at the top of a rock climbing wall. Some of the words are lighthearted and humorous, such as SKIP, while some are ironic, such as FATe, which reads as fat from a distance, or WEBSIGHHH, which questions technology in a space filled with screens and machines. The vibrant lights fill the space, giving the words a strong presence even outside the rooms in which they reside. However, while light is very contemporary in art, neon is an archaic medium, giving the brand new gym a "honky-tonk" feel, in Allen's words.
Terry Allen (American, b. 1943) is an artist and songwriter who works in many media, including musical and theatrical performances, sculpture, painting, drawing, video and multi-media installations. He graduated from Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, but his Texas upbringing influences much of his art. His art has been exhibited around the world, earning him numerous awards and honors, and he has recorded 12 albums. Neon frequently appears in his installations, but A Public Perception is his first work of art entirely in neon.