American painter, collagist and draughtsman. She studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Skowhegan School of Arts, ME, graduating in 1993. Using very minimal means, her pictures can be viewed in both straightforward formal terms and in terms of a political and culturally specific visual language linked to her identity as an African American woman. Her characteristic works consist of lined paper (of the kind used by school children) glued onto canvas and superimposed with images of eyes and lips. These symbolic body parts, which function as her trademark motifs, are taken from the American minstrel tradition; she has described them as evidence of language in motion, an example of the process that creates stereotypes. In Untitled (1996; priv. col., see 1998 Ikon Gal. exh. cat., p. 21), for example, the eyes and lips flood rhythmically across the lined picture surface in a process of aggregation. Although she uses a variety of structures and devices in her paintings, through a process of accumulation and subtraction the body parts are repeated in rhythms that suggest entrapment and diffusion. In Untitled (1998; priv. col., see 1998 Ikon Gal. exh. cat., p. 25) the lips gather as white imprints over a tainted green smudge, a pair of eyes trapped in the centre of each pasted page. Interested in the cool aggression of such performers as Bert Williams and Miles Davies, Gallagher’s work presents itself as a simple, Post-Minimal practice that retains hidden depth.
From Grove Art Online
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