Jeffry Allison spends his life surrounded by art and sharing it with others. He also creates his own artwork – photography.
“I think it was my high school art teacher who actually showed me that it was possible to have a career in the arts. I started taking photography classes and working in the darkroom at school. At one point, during my junior and senior years, I was the photographer for the Saltville Progress and had access to the high school darkroom even on weekends,” he says. Allison is a native of Saltville, Virginia, and attended R. B. Worthy High School.
His influences are Walker Evans and William Eggleston. “Evans was a great black and white photographer, especially known for his work during the Depression. Eggleston is best known for his color photography focusing on commonplace places but with an ability to make them extraordinary,” he says.
Allison is the Paul Mellon Collection Educator and Manager of Statewide Programs and Exhibitions for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Va. He holds a BA in photography from Virginia Intermont College, Bristol, Virginia, and an MFA in photography and film from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.
He has curated numerous exhibitions including “40 Years: 40 Faces,” “Through Different Eyes: The Faces of Poverty in Virginia,” “Unbroken Circle: Unto the Generations,” “Egypt Through the Drawing Room: 19th Century Stereographs of Egypt” and “Faces at the Races: Equine Culture in Virginia.”
He also curated the Paul Mellon Arts in Education exhibitions, “They Call it Stormy Weather: How Artists View the Weather and the Seasons” and “A Horse of Course! Equine Images in Art at VMFA,” which travel to locations throughout the Commonwealth.
He teaches advanced photography and the history of photography at the VMFA and has taught for over 30 years at institutions including Virginia Intermont College, Virginia Commonwealth University, East Tennessee State University, the Visual Arts Center of Richmond and Virginia Highlands Community College.
Allison was consultant on the Discovery Channel series “Ancient Origins of Native Americans” and the New York Times Magazine article, “Horace Bristol and the Grapes of Wrath.” Awards include the 2010 John Kent Shumate Advocate of the Year.
His photographic works are in numerous collections. Recent lectures include, “The World of George Catlin” at the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Georgia; and “An American Silence: Walker Evans and Edward Hopper” at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, Wintergreen, Virginia; “Faithfulness to Nature: Paintings by Edward Troye” at the National Sporting Library and Museum, Middleburg, Virginia; and “A Lifetime of Collecting: Works from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts” at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Allison has acted as technical consultant for numerous museums, art centers and festivals, including The Chrysler Museum, Hollins University and William King Museum of Art. Most recently, he curated the exhibition, “How Far Can Creativity Take You: VMFA Fellowship Artists,” the inaugural VMFA on the Road artmobile exhibition. He also oversaw the creation of this 21st-century artmobile program.
He has exhibited his own photographs for more than 30 years, including the recent exhibition “Landmarks,” at the 1708 Satellite Gallery at Linden Row, Richmond, celebrating the 40th anniversary of 1708 Gallery, and “Ship of Fellows: VMFA Fellowship Artists” at Rawls Museum Arts in Courtland. His work is represented in a number of private and corporate collections including Capital One.
He serves on the boards of the Virginia Poverty Law Center and the Virginia Children’s Book Festival, as well as the Virginia Association of Museums Governing Council and the Torpedo Factory Art Center Advisory Board. In addition, he is an advisor to Pocahontas Reframed: The Virginia Native American Film Festival and acted as moderator at the 2018 festival directors and actors panel.