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I have been dedicated to painting for the last 30 years. It is an intensely personal,meaningful and difficult pursuit that I have come to rely on as a way to understand myself and my place in the world. It is in the act of painting that I am both my most vulnerable and brave, where I take risks, face my fears, wrestle with my ego, and remember with urgency that there is no time to make anything that is not true. My paintings are abstract and generally large and are statements about energy made manifest through intuitive color choices, invented compositions, resounding mark making and the cathartic act of ripping and tearing past works in the service of the new. Both thematically and visually they address ideas of expansion and contraction, freedom and constraint, the hidden and exposed and interiority vs. exteriority. What I most want my paintings to convey is a raw vulnerability that is relatable to the viewer and transmits authenticity and beauty. I have long felt a deep kinship with graffiti of all kinds, from ancient cave paintings and centuries-old carved messages on China’s Great Wall, to tags on trains and city walls and declarations of love carved into trees. They all contain the energy of the human hand and the basic human need to tell a story, leave a mark, be remembered. These influences have been present in my work in various ways for many years. The work I am exploring now is a blend of collage, painting and weaving. The pieces are a synthesis of old and new; fragments and strips of paintings that I have ripped or cut up are collaged and woven into new works. Conversations between current and past ideas are embedded in the richly textured surfaces of the paintings, reflecting today’s fragmented digital world while nodding toward traditions of weaving and the handmade.
Galen Cheney is a painter living and working in North Adams, Massachusetts. She was born in Los Angeles and grew up in New England where she has deep roots and feels a strong connection to the land and architecture. After receiving her undergraduate degree in art and Italian from Mount Holyoke College she lived in New York City and worked as a magazine editor. Realizing she was in the wrong profession, she left New York after a few years to attend graduate school at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Thirty-plus years later, she is still painting. Galen’s work has been exhibited and collected in Europe, the U.S., Canada, and China. She has had residencies at the Millay Colony, Vermont Studio Center, MASS MoCA, and DaWang Culture Highland in Shenzhen, China. A residency at Pouch Cove, in Newfoundland is upcoming in 2024. Past shows include Buffalo Arts Studio, Mark Bettis Gallery (Asheville), David Richard Gallery (NYC), University of Maine at Augusta, University of Dallas, The Painting Center (NYC), Gray Contemporary (Houston), and Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, among many others. Her work has been featured in many publications, including New American Paintings, Art New England, Tupelo Quarterly, Berkshire Magazine and Whitefish Review. She was recently interviewed for the podcasts Sound and Vision and I Like Your Work.