In her first major body of work, made in the mid-1990s, Gallagher applied penmanship paper to canvas in uneven grids, filling the pages with small repeated pairs of stylized lips that she both drew and printed in blue ink. These works thus hinged the aesthetics of 1960s Minimalism to racist minstrelsy and blackface physiognomy. Other biomorphic forms (eyes, tongues, and hair) appear in abstract clusters throughout her oeuvre.
Upon close inspection of "Untitled," 1999, we discover a deluge of tiny hand-painted lips and eyeballs- what she calls “the disembodied ephemera of minstrelsy”. A textured terrain of shapes is overlaid in enamel on a steel rod. With this thick, reflective surface, Gallagher suggests that the psychosis of race relations is embedded in the history of Western abstraction. According to Gallagher, ”I think that these signs, these disembodied swollen eyes, and these lips have already been bruised into a metaphor, into caricature. I often get linked to some kind of pristine minimalism, but I think that one needs to reach back further, to early American abstractions. The earliest, I think, is the minstrel show, which is the disembodiment of the black body.” Gallagher regards these disembodied signs as fugitive and explores how their legibility changes when rescued from their original context.