Online caption

'Paper Cup' is part of Gallagher’s first mature body of work which explored layered and contradictory themes. Gallagher has created a loosely structured grid by lining up small pieces of writing paper in multiple rows, recalling the history of handwriting exercises. Closer inspection reveals each line to be carefully constructed from rows of bulbous shapes resembling the vowels a child must repeat when learning to write, though they are in fact a reference to the stereotypical lips of American blackface minstrels. From a distance this large work’s subtle geometry resembles an American minimalist painting, but closer inspection reveals not only a darker side of American history but references Gallagher’s own mixed-race origins.