To explore the works of Michelle Gagliano is to explore both the artist’s profound connection to nature and the commitment to her practice.
Born in upstate New York, Gagliano often recalls the farm on which she was raised and to which she credits her admiration of the natural world. Farm life provided an early understanding and appreciation of the ever-changing qualities of the landscape and light that have played the leading role in Gagliano’s art throughout her career.
Gagliano’s formal art training is extensive, with various academic environments exposing the artist to a cadre of sophisticated teachers, peers, and practices. She began her undergraduate education at the University of Texas Austin before transferring to University of Texas Denton to study with the famed painter and teacher Vernon Fisher. Gagliano then completed her Bachelor of Arts degree from Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire, graduating summa cum laude with a major in painting and a minor in art history. Almost two decades later, Gagliano once again turned to an academic setting to augment her practice and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from American University in Washington, D.C. Her resume also includes completed residencies at the prestigious Chautauqua School of Art and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
For the last ten years, Gagliano has practiced from her studio in central Virginia. Here, she remains deep in production mode. According to the artist, “the place I want to be most is in the studio.” Always working on several paintings at a time, Gagliano stays in the thought process, and finds herself in a constant state of inspiration. Surrounding farmland echoes the farm of her childhood, with the four seasons of Virginia showcasing the transient quality of nature that drives Gagliano’s continuous experimentation and dedication to her art.
Another component of her recent works that links Gagliano to the Master painters who came before her is the thoughtful use of materials. In the summer of 2018, Gagliano eliminated all toxic materials from her practice, introducing instead ground pigments, oils and solvents based in nuts and lavender, and handmade gessoes. It is not lost on her that this replicates what Leonardo DaVinci, Raphael, and other Masters used in their time. It is also not lost that this choice underscores the lifestyle of sustainability to which Gagliano became accustomed as a child on a farm. When asked about her decision to paint with environmentally-friendly and sustainable materials only, the artist acknowledges both the Masters and an understanding that polluting the world does not go hand-in-hand with the beauty of the world that she has dedicated her life’s work to capturing.
Beyond her home state of Virginia, Gagliano has permeated the American art scene with extensive solo exhibitions and curated group shows throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Gagliano’s accolades are extensive, including the coveted Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship and innovative, collaborative projects with symphonic musicians and published authors. Her works continue to be curated into major private and corporate collections, both within the United States and abroad.
Awards & Achievements
2022 VCU Virginia Commonwealth University Research Grant Recipient
2021 Appointed “Godmother” to Ecological Art Competition, Rome & Arrezzo, Italy
2017 VMFA Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Visual Arts Fellowship
2007 Artwork for “The Painted Violin.” Original Musical Composition inspired by the “Painted Violin.” Sante Fe Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe, NM
2002 Best of Show, Artfest Juried Show, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands, TX
2001 Cow Parade Houston, Juried Show, Sponsor Houstonian Hotel, Houston, TX