Galen Cheney’s exhibit of 11 abstract paintings in the Charles Danforth Gallery at the University of Maine at Augusta started Nov. 10. Shown here is her “Interpreter of Dreams.”  Image ©Galen Cheney

AUGUSTA — Galen Cheney’s exhibit of 11 abstract paintings in the Charles Danforth Gallery at the University of Maine at Augusta started Nov. 10.

Chesney, a painter based in North Adams, Massachusetts, is a Mount Holyoke College graduate who earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her process-driven paintings explore emotion, spirituality, and the flow of energy through an artistic process that harnesses the potential of both destruction and creation, according to a news release from the university.

“The Ecstatic Tear” is on display through Dec. 17. The public can visit the gallery in Jewett Hall, which is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The UMA community and the general public are invited to a reception and artist talk from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17.

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.

“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,” she said in the news release. 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.

In the Danforth Gallery, Cheney’s 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 reconfiguration of what painting has been, and an open-ended exploration of where it might yet go.


Cheney was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in New England. She has exhibited her works in 20 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 this summer. Her work has been exhibited and collected widely in the U.S. and in Europe, China, Canada and the U.K. 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.

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