Ellen Gallagher gave an artist talk last night at the opening of her new show of here at The Henry. After a slide overview of her work (where she questioned her own articulates), she spoke very well of the stories and influences behind her work. Historical references featured in her latest show originated with a project of archiving vintage Ebony magazines.
Gallagher’s work was a favorite of mine after I first discovered her penmanship paintings at the Mary Boone gallery back in the mid nineties. I was a little disappointed there were no large paintings in the show here, but her new drawings and drawn-into films (she referred to them as animations) we an interesting progression to witness. Allegedly she is putting up a new on-site piece that is in progress in the gallery. .
I have in the past thought of Gallagher as Agnes Martin with a sense of humor and found it amusing she specifically said she has been referenced as Agnes Martin with chatter. She appears to be moving away from abstraction as witnessed in her wig series, perhaps the Martin reference might fade.
Bits of her personal history were sprinkled through out her talk including reminiscence of attending a Black Power camp growing up in the 70’s and the beauty of seeing George Clinton as her first teenage concert.
Subsequently a highlight of the evening came during the Q & A session when an audience member asked:
Q: “Who would you say your audience is- I look around the room and I see mostly white people.”
A: ” Well, I’m in Seattle!”