May 15 – June 30, 2020
Roll Up Project is on a brief haitus due to COVID-19, but there’s still art to see as you pass by the windows. We are pleased to present paintings by our founder, Squeak Carnwath. Her works closely examine the details of everyday life, and during these times of solitude, they resonate even more deeply.
In the Harrison Street window, Carnwath’s Home is emblazoned with the words “Are We There Yet”, bringing to mind the common refrain of childhood trips. But instead of travelers, we are journeying together at home, wondering if we are there yet, and wondering what “there” will even look like. The daily news seems to bring more questions than answers. Under the veil of these multicolored letters are a selection of icons that hint at aspects of daily life and culture: flowers, a hand, a house, faces pressed together in a kiss. Some of these reflect on the pleasures of being at home, while others reference the things we can’t control. In particular, the sinking ship and the upturned map of the United States suggest our collective vulnerability in this modern era where so many things are fixed with the click of a button. Despite our advancements in technology, we are still at the mercy of the natural world.
In the windows on Third Street, a selection of paintings from Carnwath’s Pants on Fire series claws back some of the control we all desire. Carnwath began this series in 2017 in response to the current political administration. What began as a cathartic experiment to express frustration expanded into over 70 small paintings of various scales. The word “liar” is emblazoned on all of the works, but each carries a slightly different meaning. Some are painted over silhouettes of Trump, while others contain patterns, objects, and built up surfaces of paint. While they can all be taken as political statements, they also reflect on the act of painting, which is an illusion of its own. Painters build up surfaces and create worlds entirely of their own making, which can be filled with lies if they so choose. Realism is not mandatory in art-making, and the artist’s control over the surface of an artwork affords the freedom to deceive the viewer, or reveal a universal truth through the use of abstraction and illusion. At this moment in history, perhaps we all need to look a bit more closely at every surface in the hopes of seeing things more clearly.
About the Artist
Squeak Carnwath draws upon the philosophical and mundane experiences of daily life in her paintings and prints, which can be identified by lush fields of color combined with text, patterns, and identifiable images. She has received numerous awards including the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA) Award from San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, two Individual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Award for Individual Artists from the Flintridge Foundation. Carnwath is Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives and works in Oakland, CA.
Learn more about her work here.