Ellen Gallagher’s practice encompasses paintings, drawings, printmaking and film, where she manipulates archival material and popular cultural sources to examine notions of race and identity. She is interested in the formal aspects of her process through which she negotiates the relationships between abstraction and representation, the organic and the structured, the personal and the collective. Gallagher has been influenced by the sublime aesthetics of Agnes Martin’s paintings, as well the subtle shifts and repetitions of Gertrude Stein’s writing.
Gallagher was part of Iniva’s ‘Alien Nation’ (2007), a touring exhibition that explores the complex relationship between science fiction, race and contemporary art.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island. She studied writing at Oberlin College, Ohio (1982–84) and completed her painting studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1992. Her art education further continued in 1993 at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Gallagher has received numerous awards to date that include the Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship (1997), the American Academy Award in Art (2000), and the Medal of Honor, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2001). Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions and is held in the permanent collections of many major museums.
She has had solo exhibitions in the Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; St. Louis Art Museum; Des Moines Art Centre; Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Gallagher participated in the ‘Biennale di Venezia’ in 2003, 2015 and in 2017 when she exhibited within the ‘Diaspora Pavilion’.
Gallagher currently lives and works in New York and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.