“Galen Cheney: The Ecstatic Tear” on display at the Danforth Gallery

Charles Danforth Gallery

Jewett Hall, University of Maine at Augusta, November 10th – December 17th, 2021

Artist Talk and Reception in the Danforth Gallery

Wednesday, November 17th, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

The image is a studio view of Galen Cheney's large painting "Interpreter of Dreams" that shows the painting pinned against a white wall with stray paint lines on it, and a dark gray paint-splattered floor below. "Interpreter of Dreams" is very colorful painting with gridded and gesturally-painted strokes of fluorescent pink, yellow, and orange paint among many other shades of blue, green, red, and white, that is also literally interwoven with painted strips of canvas that weave through the painting's surface. There is not any central image in the painting, but a cacophony of color and line that is bold, energetic, and colorful. The woven strips of painted canvas hang down below the painting's edge.
Studio view of Galen Cheney, Interpreter of Dreams, textile color, acrylic, oil, and glitter on collaged canvas, 63 x 82 in., 2020-21 Image ©Galen Cheney

Galen Cheney, a painter based in North Adams, Massachusetts, will exhibit eleven monumental new abstract paintings in the Charles Danforth Gallery at the University of Maine at Augusta starting November 10. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College who earned her MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Cheney’s process-driven paintings explore emotion, spirituality, and the flow of energy through an artistic process that harnesses the potential of both destruction and creation.

Cheney named her exhibition, “The Ecstatic Tear” for the artist’s experience of tearing earlier paintings into strips of canvas she then collages onto new paintings. Destroying paintings to create new ones opens an ecstatic space of possibility that fuels Cheney’s inventive, open-ended creative process in her studio. Cheney explains, “Each piece is unique and while I have trusted methods that I have developed over time, there is no formula. It’s different every time.” Cheney’s process interweaves creation and destruction in a riotous visual expedition into the unknown, channeling color, material, time, and labor into new possibilities alive at the edge of painting.

“Each piece is unique and while I have trusted methods that I have developed over time, there is no formula. It’s different every time.”

In the Danforth Gallery, Cheney’s formidable paintings suffuse the double-height corners with intense, even fluorescent color, and gestural and geometric forms that rush, shear, dissolve, radiate, and curl. In Interpreter of Dreams, Cheney applied acrylic paint, glitter, and oil paint over canvas, then cut into the painting, threading torn strips of other works through to create a painting that hovers between painting and weaving– a fearless, even ecstatic reconfiguration of what painting has been, and an open-ended exploration of where it might yet go.

Galen Cheney was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in New England. She now lives in North Adams, Massachusetts. She has exhibited her works in twenty group exhibitions and eight solo exhibitions in the past five years. Her most recent solo exhibition, Slow Burn, opened at David Richard Gallery in New York in the summer of 2021. Cheney earned her BA from Mount Holyoke College, and her MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, and her work has been exhibited and collected widely in the U.S. and in Europe, China, Canada, and the UK. She was featured in New American Paintings (vol. 86) and was nominated for a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. Her residencies and fellowships include the Millay Colony, MASS MoCA, Vermont Studio Center, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, and Da Wang Culture Highland. She received a residency at Mass MoCA in 2019, and a North Adams Project Grant in 2020

Galen Cheney: The Ecstatic Tear is on display from November 10 – December 17, 2021.

The public is welcome to visit the gallery in Jewett Hall, which is open on Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.The UMA community and the general public are invited to the reception and artist talk on Wednesday, November 17th from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Follow Danforth Gallery on Facebook and Instagram, and view current, past, and upcoming exhibitions at danforth.uma.edu.