The New England Gallery located on the Marble Court balcony highlights 20th- and 21st-century paintings, primarily by Vermont artists, from the Fleming Museum’s permanent collection. In the spring of 2016, the gallery saw the addition of a long-term loan from the Hood Museum of Art, Ivan Albright’s The Vermonter (If Life Were Life There Would Be No Death). The Contemporary Voices series provides an opportunity to view the work of current Vermont artists within the historical context of their predecessors. This fall, we are pleased to present works by Sally Gil and Galen Cheney, which join Eric Aho’s painting Vow, all on view through the coming year.
Sally Gil was born and raised in Bennington, Vermont, and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Her work explores the constructs of place, perspective, and history, juxtaposing the particular with the universal. While Gil’s works are not overtly autobiographical, references to her Vermont childhood appear frequently, alongside allusions to the cosmos and the world-at-large. Her process is meticulous, combining collaged elements sourced from books, her own photographs, gardening catalogs, and comic books, among other print media, with painting serving as the “glue” holding it all together. In Indigenous Mass, the austere beauty of a Morgan horse, the state animal of Vermont, lies at the center of the piece under pendulous clouds of blueberries, a plant that grows wild in the state. Hopi dancers, birds, aboriginal cowboys and sheep, a white steepled church, and a covered bridge create a cultural stew. Each fragment holds a wealth of signifiers allowing every viewer a way in through their own personal associations.
In a first for the Contemporary Voices project, artist Galen Cheney created a work specifically for exhibition on the Museum’s balcony. In the fall of 2015, Cheney spent two months at an artist’s residency in Shenzhen, China, a trip that has influenced her use of broad, calligraphic ink strokes and a technique of collaging various papers or pieces of cut-up paintings. Cheney’s collaged works often break out of the two-dimensional plane or out of the boundaries of the rectangle, and her oil paintings are no less bursting with creative energy.