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Courtney Allen


Essay by Kathleen Alcott
80 Pages
Flexi-Cover w/ Tipped-On Image & Foil Stamping
Full Color Offset
8.5” x 11”
ISBN: 978-1-952523-25-0

Special Edition available here.

It took Courtney Allen more than half a decade, and thousands of miles of travel across a dozen states, to make the pictures that comprise her debut monograph Splendor. As the title implies, there is an undeniable sense of glory and of grandeur in the American landscape. “If we can understand the capacity for beauty in any situation, it is there,” she says. “It is a primary and universal experience.”

And yet, attending the light there is always a darkness; in these photographs, the almost-inescapable built environment complicates and confounds our varied expectations of nature: to be nurtured, to conquer, to stand atop, to be held within. Allen’s meditative meandering of the natural world is punctuated by moments when things appear out of place, as if one has been awoken from a dreamlike state. 

“To be inside a Courtney Allen image,” Kathleen Alcott observes in her essay, “is to eavesdrop on an argument between the secular and the divine, the sentient and the manufactured, the forever and the recent.” Importantly, these tensions are not merely described by Allen, but rather evoked, as we see things not only through her eyes, but as a collective experience, an act of community among people who have also been drawn to these sites. 

Courtney Allen (b. 1988) is a photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work centers on our relationship with the natural world—our hopeful expectations meeting the reality of our contributions. In 2014, she co-founded Austin, TX-based curatorial project and art gallery, Magic the Gallery.