Born – California, works and lives in North Adams, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
1990 – MFA Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art
1984 – BA cum laude, Mount Holyoke College
1982-83 – University of Florence Italy, Smith College Abroad

The artist from her studio in Massachusetts talks about her artwork and the process.

Process-Driven Abstractions


Studio – mixed media on canvas, 72×60, 2019
Cheney-Studieo-mixed media-72x60_19

Exhale, acrylic on canvas, 60x50in, 2018

Out of the Ashes-mixed media on canvas-60×48-18
Cheney-Out of the Ashes-mixed media on canvas-60x48-18


Morning Table – mixed media on canvas, 60x48in, 2018

Sensitive Skin – mixed media on canvas, 60x48in, 2018Cheney-SensitiveSkin-oil-60x48-18

Positively-Confounding – mixed media on canvas, 60x48in, 2018

Devotee – mixed media on canvas, 60x48in, 2018
Cheney-Devotee-mixed media on canvas-60x48-18

Surfer – mixed media on canvas, 60 x 44in, 2018
Cheney-Surfer-mixed media on canvas-60 x 44-18

Limbic – mixed media collage on canvas, 60x44in, 2017
Cheney-Limbic-mixed media collage on canvas-60x44_web

Cheney-Studio-by-David Grozinsky

Inisfree – liquid textile color and oil spray paint on unprimed linen, 49x47in, 2017

This May Sting a Little – mixed media with collage on canvas, 47x46in, 2017
Cheney-This May Sting a Little-MixedMediaWithCollageonCanvas-47x46-2017_web

Street Dreams, acrylic on canvas, 60x48in, 2016
Cheney-Street Dreams-mided media-60x48in_2016

A Beautiful Reckoning – oilLinen-57x67in, 2016
Cheney-A Beautiful Reckoning-oilLinen-57x67-2016_web

Awake in Da Wang – oilLinen, 59x59in, 2016
Cheney-Awake in Da Wang-oilLinen-59x59-2016_web

Clawfoot Master – oilLinen, 59x59in, 2016
Cheney-Clawfoot Master-oilLinen-59x59-2016_web

I don’t seek to make work that is “about” something in particular.  If I had to put a name to it I would call it process-driven abstraction.  The creative process and the exploration and manipulation of materials are what drive the work.  They are the engine and the fuel.  Experimentation and pushing boundaries are ongoing concerns.

The work I am currently making is a furthering, a deepening of work that I started during a residency in China in 2015.  There I was working with accumulated papers, building them up into multi-layered constructions.  While I continue to work with paper, I have also shifted that approach to using canvas and more durable materials.  The process is additive and reductive.  I use fragments of past paintings, old receipts, used airline tickets, remnants of past experiences and work them into the surface of the new painting. They become one with the new surface, imbuing the painting with memory, history, a sense of time, and an accidental quality, which I find beautiful and compelling.  Paintings made this way, constructed really, have a distinct object-like quality, which is satisfying.

Working in this physical way allows my mind to stay open and present in the process.  It keeps me from becoming too tight and closing down the creative possibilities of a painting before it is finished.  I strive to keep the painting as open as I can for as long as I can before finishing it.  It is the opposite of planning a painting and then executing the plan.  I can only enter the zone if I don’t try to overthink or control the process.

More recently I have introduced liquid textile color into my work, which I pour and brush onto raw canvas.  This watery paint soaks into the canvas and does not add any texture to the painting whatsoever.  What it does is add deep color and often a sense of illusionistic space.  I am now working on combining these two methods of working: collaging and pouring color.

That said, the paintings are cohesive and all share a kind of sensibility.  They are very much of this world in that they pulse with a contemporary frequency, swirling with energy, sometimes recalling natural forces and processes, other times a more urban tone.


1990 – MFA Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art
1984 – BA cum laude, Mount Holyoke College
1982-83 – University of Florence Italy, Smith College Abroad

Solo Exhibitions
2018 – Khawam Gallery, New York Art Expo, New York City
2018 – Edgewater Gallery, Stowe, Vermont, Aidron Duckworth Museum, Norwich, Vermont
2016 – TJ Walton Gallery, Provincetown, MA, River Arts, Morrisville, Vermont
2015 – The Painting Center, New York, NY, Da Wang Culture Highland, Shenzhen, China
2014 – Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont Supreme Court, Montpelier, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont, AVA Gallery, Lebanon New Hampshire
2013 – Helen Day Art Center, Stowe, Vermont Burlington International Airport, Burlington, Vermont
2012 – BCA Center, Burlington, Vermont
2011 – Saint-Gaudens Memorial National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire, Vermont Arts Council, Montpelier, Vermont
2010 – Julian Scott Memorial Gallery, Johnson State College, Johnson, Vermont, Topnotch at Stowe Resort, Stowe, Vermont
2009 – Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Hanover, New Hampshire, Home Hill Inn, Plainfield, New Hampshire
2008 – West Branch Gallery, Stowe, Vermont, The Taft School, Watertown, Connecticut
2007 – West Branch Gallery, Stowe, Vermont
2006 – South End Art Hop, Burlington, Vermont
2005 – Supreme Court of Vermont, Montpelier, Vermont, AVA Gallery, Lebanon, New Hampshire, Galerie 1225, Montreal, Canada
2003 – Bundy Center for the Arts, Waitsfield, Vermont
2000 – Omni Gallery, Portland, Oregon
1999 – Omni Gallery, Portland, Oregon
1998 – Rogue Community College, Grants Pass, Oregon, Omni Gallery, Portland, Oregon

Two Persons Exhibitions
2013 – The Painting Center, New York, NY, West Branch Gallery, Stowe, Vermont
2011 – Catamount Arts Center, St. Johnsbury, Vermont
2001 – Church and Maple Gallery, Burlington, Vermont

Group Exhibitions
2017 – SITE: Brooklyn, New York, NY, Cosmo_logic, Wynwood, Miami, Florida
2016 – The Fleming Museum, 2016-17, The Painting Center, New York, NY, Greenville Center for the Arts, Greenville, South Carolina, Chandler Center for the Arts, Randolph, Vermont, New England Center for Circus Art, Brattleboro, Vermont
2015 – Central Booking, New York, NY, IDEA Museum, Mesa, AZ, Kent Museum, Calais, VT, Amy Tarrant Gallery, Burlington, Vermont
2014 – The Drawing Room Gallery, Cos Cob, CT, Gray Contemporary, Houston, Texas
2013  – M55 Noho Art Gallery, New York, New York, Goddard College Gallery, Montpelier, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont, AVA Gallery, Lebanon, N.H.
2012 – Volo Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, Quench Artspace, Waitsfield, Vermont, Amy Tarrant Gallery, Burlington, Vermont, Fleming Museum, Burlington, Vermont
2011 – The Painting Center, New York, NY, TW Wood Gallery, Montpelier, Vermont, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont
2009 – The Sketchbook Project, touring museums and galleries in Atlanta, Boston, Washington, DC, Brooklyn, Chicago, St. Louis, and Philadelphia
2008 – Night of 1,000 Drawings, Artist’s Space, New York, NY, Artrageous, Nashsville, Tennessee, Festiv’Art 2008, Frelighsburg, Quebec, Paradise City Arts Festival, Northampton, Massachusetts, Vermont Supreme Court, West Branch Gallery, Stowe, Vermont
2007 – Red Mill Gallery, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont, Gracie Square Art Show, New York, NY, Valdosta National, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, Art Path Gallery, Burlington, Vermont

Awards / Residences
2015 – Fellowship Award, Da Wang Culture Highland, Shenzhen, China
2014 – Fellowship, Millay Colony
2013 – Nomination, Joan Mitchell Foundation award for painting
2012 – Full Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center
2010 – Publication Award, Open Studios Press
2007 – Artist’s Resource Trust Award, Berkshire Taconic Foundation
2005 – Alliance of Visual Artists, Lebanon, NH, Juror’s Choice Award
1999 – Beaverton, Oregon Arts Commission, First prize, oils and acrylics
1998 – Full Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, Fellowship finalist, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center

Fresco Street Arts Quarterly, Fall, 2016
Kolaj Magazine, 2016
Art New England, Summer 2016
Mud Season Review, Issue 20
Art New England, May/June, 2013
Whitefish Review, Vol. 6, Issue 1
Aesthetica Magazine, Vol. 40, 2011
Studio Visit, Vol. 13/14, Open Studios Press, 2011
New American Paintings, No. 86, Open Studios Press, 2010
Galen Cheney, Internal Combustion, Kasini House Publishing, 2008
New England Watershed Magazine, Spring, 2007
Seven Days, 2013, May, 2012, August, 2011, June, 2010, December, 2005, September, 2001, March, 2001
Times Argus/Rutland Herald, January, 2013, October, 2005, June, 2005

Online Publications
Mutantspace, Artist a Day, Abstract Art, Artsy Forager, Pattern Pulp, The Periphery, Art Blog Daily, Contemporary Abstraction, Design Milk, Mockingbird, Amy Parry Projects

Galen’s work exhibited and collected in the US, Canada, Europe and China