BA St. Olaf College
MA University of Iowa
MFA University of Iowa
David Van Allen earned his Bachelor's degree in English and Master's degrees in Photography from the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History. For several years, beginning in 1983, he taught as a part-time adjunct at Mount Mercy, Kirkwood Community College and Coe College. He worked at Mount Mercy from 1991–2012 where he served as college photographer and gallery director, then later as Senior Lecturer. In 1997 he built a studio in the historic Cedar Rapids Cherry building, where he currently resides and works as a professional photographer.
Portraiture pervades Van Allen's work in almost all aspects of his photographic milieu. His personal work currently involves a series of life-size portrait assemblages made from many individual negatives of close-up segments of his subjects. The reconstruction process resembles the assembly of a jig-saw puzzle with multiple solutions. Van Allen travels whenever possible, and collects many of his subjects while abroad.
Set design and collaborations for theatrical productions have been another aspect of Van Allen's work, incorporating photographic imagery into productions of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, The Last Concert Tour of Micky Collossus and the Merchants of Death, three short operas produced by the Cedar Rapids Opera Company and several collaborations with Mel Andringa and the Drawing Legion at CSPS/Legion Arts, including The Fall of Babylon.