Gallagher’s work is infused with issues of race, gender and history. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, she has both Irish and African-American origins. This has influenced her work a great deal. She appropriates imagery from old magazines directed at African-American women and places it alongside the writings of Gertrude Stein and ideas from science fiction. With repetition and revision as central characteristics, much of her earlier work initially appears abstract. Yet on closer inspection, the lines and grids are composed of motifs relating to racial stereotypes. She works in a variety of materials including paint, plasticine, enamel and rubber to create complex surfaces that push the traditions and boundaries of painting. She studied in Ohio, Boston and Maine, and moved to New York in 1997.