Ellen Gallagher created her first major portfolio of prints in collaboration with the Neiman Center. She developed her images using the processes of etching, drypoint, screenprint and offset lithography which she applied to a careful selection of printing papers. She manipulates the paper surfaces with embossing and chine collé, cutting small holes that reveal the prints beneath. Gallagher's work is animated by the trademarks of her world: popping eyes and bulging mouths, disembodied wigs and the ruled paper of a school child. Using images that recall black minstrels and black hairstyles, Gallagher employs visual fragments to address the stigmas of racial stereotypes. When asked about her experience at the Neiman Center, she wrote, "Working in such a porous way with my signs opened up possibilities in my painting practice.... This evolution was certainly opened up by the conversations I had on the plate."
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1965, a child of a bi-racial couple, Gallagher grew up in a world full of contrasts. She attended private school in Providence and then entered Oberlin College at the age of sixteen but left before graduating. Later she studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Repetition and revision are central to her compositions, a minimalist tone exists, influenced by Agnes Martin among others. In various projects she has employed the use of advertisement images which are appropriated from popular magazines like "Ebony," "Our World," and "Sepia". In earlier works, pages of penmanship paper are collaged onto stretched canvas and drawn over. Her work has been shown extensively in the United States and abroad. A selection of solo exhibition venues include the Whitney Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; St. Louis Art Museum; Des Moines Art Center; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; ICA, Boston and was included in the Whitney Biennial in 1995. She is represented by the Gagosian Gallery in New York. She lives and works in New York and Rotterdam, Holland.