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Alicia McCarthy: No Straight Lines

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Venerated Bay Area–artist Alicia McCarthy will create a vibrantly colorful, large-scale, site-specific mural in the Wexner Center’s lower lobby this winter—her first in the Midwest.

McCarthy (b. 1969) is associated with the so-called Mission School that emerged among a group of students and others affiliated with the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1990s—before gentrification and the dot com boom and bust that radically shifted the landscape of the Mission District and city as a whole. These artists, including Ruby Neri, Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, and Chris Johanson, embraced an “urban rustic” aesthetic. Her practice has also been shaped by her time at Humboldt State University, prior to studying in San Francisco, where she was part of another close-knit artist community with peers like Harrell Fletcher and Virgil Shaw.

McCarthy is best known for her abstract paintings that are influenced by punk and queer subcultures, graffiti, and folk art, and often incorporate found elements or recycled materials that pay homage to the surrounding community. These works—often featuring a nexus of interwoven, multihued lines—are at once entropic and controlled, intimate and tough. As the artist noted in a catalogue for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s 2017 SECA Art Award: “I want my work to reflect all the beauty and pain of everyday life. All woven together and interconnecting to create [images] based in line and color.”

"What you see is what you see until it isn’t.…Never as simple as they first appear, these works breathe in a new way and, again, generously reveal secrets of their own."

McCarthy’s project here will utilize surplus paint left over from previous Wexner Center exhibition installations—an extension of her commitment to using available resources that resonates with Columbus’s own active DIY culture. The project will both enhance and contrast with the complex geometries of the center’s famed architecture.

Alicia McCarthy painting in progress

Alicia McCarthy
Untitled, 2017
Water-based spray paint on marine grade plywood
Installation at San Francisco Art Institute's Fort Mason Campus
Courtesy of the artist
Photo: Stephanie Smith

Alicia McCarthy painting in progress

Alicia McCarthy
Untitled, 2017
Water-based spray paint on marine grade plywood
Installation at San Francisco Art Institute's Fort Mason Campus
Courtesy of the artist
Photo: Stephanie Smith

Alicia McCarthy painting with colorful lines creating a woven-like appearance

Alicia McCarthy
Untitled, 2014
Gouache, latex paint, and spray paint on wood panel
75 x 48 in.
Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Hanley Gallery

Alicia McCarthy painting with colorful lines creating a woven-like appearance

Alicia McCarthy
Untitled, 2016
Gouache, latex paint, and spray paint on wood panel
48 x 48 in.
Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Hanley Gallery

Alicia McCarthy painting with colorful lines creating a woven-like appearance

Alicia McCarthy
Untitled, 2017
Spray paint, latex paint, pencil, and crayon on wood
60 x 60 in.
Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Hanley Gallery

Organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts and curated by Assistant Curator Lucy I. Zimmerman.

SUPPORT FOR FREE AND LOW-COST PROGRAMS AT THE WEXNER CENTER
Huntington Bank
Cardinal Health Foundation

GENERAL OPERATING SUPPORT FOR THE WEXNER CENTER
Greater Columbus Arts Council
Ohio Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation
Nationwide Foundation

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Next Exhibitions

Alicia McCarthy: No Straight Lines