Chantelle Eloise Allen was born in Humansdorp, South Africa, a small town where the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans meet. She has experienced both the beauty of South Africa and the ugly effects of poverty. When she was a child her family was held gun point and car jacked in Pretoria, a suburb outside of Johannesburg. From there they moved to Port Elizabeth, and not too long after immigrated to the United States, which was considered to be the ultimate utopia of human existence.
She attended a Seventh-Day Adventist boarding school in North Carolina, where mission work is important to the community. Classmates and she traveled to Mexico, where they built a school; Fiji, where they helped clean up and rebuild after a hurricane and an orphanage in Romania where she taught gymnastics, music and art. Through these outreach programs she became more aware of the fragile nature of human existence. After High School, Chantelle studied abroad in Australia for 1 year. There she took classes in Sculpture, Painting, Wind and Water Sports at Avondale Seventh-Day Adventist College. Chantelle returned to Michigan to get her B.F.A. and Art Education Degree at Andrews University located in a rural town called Berrien Springs. Here, she was inspired by the simple, yet highly efficient farming community. Chantelle student taught sculpture, painting/drawing, and basic art at Buchanan High School. Since Graduation, she has been teaching art classes at the Krasl Art Center in Saint Joseph, Michigan.
In her current “Iophobia” series of oil paintings, Chantelle explores themes of being female, the middle and lower class, and the fear of loosing the perfect Utopian Society. She also appreciates and captivates the rural, small town Americana. Although she is well traveled, she tends to continuously navigate her way back to painting the simple and intimate scenes from a rural perspective. Her subject matters range from vintage cars and diner scenes to 1950’s housewives. She begins by taking images using 35ml. film, processed in the dark room and coffee stained to create an aged effect. The film strip is visible on the print just as it is on some of the paintings. This creates an illusion of a snapshot or moment in time. She sketches the scene out in charcoal and leaves part of it showing through the paint. She uses traditional American images in a contemporary manner with contrasting elements. There is a play of opposites such as order vs. chaos through the use of a “perfect American dream” with a satire of decaying nature. The happy housewife or American couple with some hint of grunge, grease or rust that reminds us that nothing lasts forever. It is a perfect dream but a greasy and messy reality.