Bridgeport June 29, 1908
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Sally Haley received her art education at Yale. While there she studied with Daniel Thompson, who taught her the application of egg tempera, a technique which leaves a flat, brushless surface. She also had private art instruction in Munich. While participating in the WPA, she completed a mural project for the post office in McConnelsville, Ohio titled Mail--The Connecting Link. This twelve-foot-long painting is Haley's largest work. While living in Connecticut during World War II, she completed some paintings of the outdoors, but this was unusual subject matter for her. She preferred domestic subjects and interior spaces with hints of the indoor or outdoor space that lay beyond. Starting in the mid-1940s, her theatrical use of space and scale marked the influence of Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico.
She arrived in Portland in 1947 with her husband, Michele Russo, who had accepted a position at the Museum Art School. Paintings from this period continued to show her interest in surrealistic space and her experimentation with placement of objects in a manipulated environment. Starting with the mid-1950s, however, the objects themselves became the subject; her treatment of them changed as the space became more minimal and related to the objects in a new way. The Oregonian commented on her 1959 one-person show at Harvey Welch's Gallery: "Set against almost stark backgrounds, each item can be fully enjoyed for its beauty of form and color and texture without the distraction which a more complicated composition would provide."
In the early 1960s she ceased using oil paint, continuing instead with acrylic and egg tempera. Her work continued to be varied in dimension and subject matter, gaining inspiration from "the environment which provides so many opportunities."
Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.
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