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Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher (born December 16, 1965) is an American artist. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions and is held in the permanent collections of many major museums. Her media include painting, works on paper, film and video. Some of her pieces refer to issues of race, and may combine formality with racial stereotypes and depict "ordering principles" society imposes.

Gallagher was born on December 16, 1965 in Providence, Rhode Island. Referred to as African American, she is of biracial ethnicity; her father's heritage was from Cape Verde, in Western Africa (but he was born in the United States), and her mother's background was Caucasian Irish Catholic. Gallagher's mother was a working-class Irish-American and her father was a professional boxer.

In Rhode Island, Gallagher attended Moses Brown, an elite, Quaker college preparatory school. At sixteen, Gallagher entered her first year at Oberlin College in Ohio (1982–1984) and studied writing. Gallagher did not finish her education at Oberlin College and ended up joining a carpenters' union in Seattle. Before her art career, Gallagher worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and Maine. In 1989 she attended Studio 70 in Fort Thomas, Kentucky before earning a degree in fine arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1992. Her art education further continued in 1993 at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.

Gallagher gained recognition as an artist in 1995. Prior to her Gagosian showing, Gallagher had solo shows at Mary Boone in Soho, New York and Anthony D'Offay in London. As her first solo show in New York, Gallagher chose Mary Boone's space because of its neutrality, in which she stated, "because there the abstract qualities of my work stand out first".

Gallagher is an abstract painter and multimedia artist creating minimalist work with subject narratives. Gallagher's influences include the paintings of Agnes Martin and the repetitive writings of Gertrude Stein. Some of Gallagher's work involves repetitively modifying advertising found in African American focused publications such as Ebony, Sepia, and Our World, including images from Valmor Products ads, as in her DeLuxe series. Her most famous pieces are her grid-like collages of magazines grouped together into larger pieces. Examples of these are eXelento (2004), Afrylic (2004), and DeLuxe (2005). Each of these works contains as many as or more than 60 prints employing techniques of photogravure, spit-bite, collage, cutting, scratching, silkscreen, offset lithography and hand-building. Gallagher also glues notebook paper drawings onto her canvas to create textured surfaces.

Some of Gallagher's early influences while attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston were the Darkroom Collective, a group of poets living and working out of Inman Square in Cambridge, MA and would go on to become the art coordinator of the collective. The Darkroom collective allowed Gallagher to explore her talent and apply her culture as an African-American woman to her work. One of her first exhibits took place at the Dark Room in 1989. Some other influences at the Museum School were Susan Denker, Ann Hamilton, Kiki Smith and Laylah Ali.

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Ellen Gallagher Artworks
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