Squeak Carnwath

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Squeak Carnwath
Born 1947 (age 69–70)
Abington, Pennsylvania, United States
Nationality American
Education California College of Arts and Crafts,
Goddard College
Notable work The Story of Painting (1999)
Awards Flintridge Foundation Award for Visual Artists (2001),
Guggenheim Fellowship (1994),
National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship (1985 & 1980)

Squeak Carnwath (born 1947 in Abington, Pennsylvania)[1] is a contemporary American painter and arts educator. She is a Professor Emerita of Art at University of California, Berkeley.[2][3]


The name Squeak was a childhood name that stuck.[4]

After high school, Carnwath studied art in Illinois, Greece, and Vermont before attending the California College of Arts and Crafts, where she studied ceramics, painting, and sculpture with Viola Frey, Art Nelson, Jay DeFeo, and Dennis Leon. She received her MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts in 1977.[5] She taught at University of California, Berkeley from 1982 until 2010,[3] having previously taught at California College of Arts and Crafts and Ohlone College.

In 2000, Carnwath partnered with husband Gary Knecht and artist Viola Frey to establish the Artists' Legacy Foundation (ALF). According to the Foundation's website, their mission is "... to support and encourage fellow artists through awards and grants, promoting and protecting the legacy of deceased "Legacy Artists," and generally supporting the visual arts, especially where the hand of the artist is a significant factor in making art.”[6]

She currently has a studio in Oakland, California, where she has lived and worked since 1970.[7]


Soon after graduating with an MFA, Carnwath began to receive recognition for her work including a Visual Arts Fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts[8] and a SECA Art Award in 1980 from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which included a solo exhibition at the museum.[9] The exhibition featured a large sculptural installation titled My Own Ghost. Works on paper related to the My Own Ghost series were also included.[10]

Following the exhibition, Carnwath focused on paintings and works on paper. Early 1980s artworks included interior scenes, stylized figures, and everyday objects like cups and vases, with titles often painted into wide borders.[11][12][13] Her work was exhibited at Goldeen Gallery in San Francisco [14] and Van Straaten Gallery in Chicago.[15]

In the mid-1980s, Carnwath produced a series of works based on dog toys including balls, bones, a hand, and a Kong toy.[16]

During the 1990s, Carnwath created series of list paintings, which included paintings describing color, gender norms, and fears, among other topics. Many of the paintings follow a similar format, with a list of associated words grouped in one portion of the canvas, and colors or imagery charted on the remaining portion. For example, the words slime, jade, salad, and sickness are included in a list above swatches of green in the color painting Things Green.[17][18]

In 1994, Carnwath was awarded the Guggenheim fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.[19]

Carnwath has a distinctive and recognizable style which combines diaristic and personal elements with universal or existential themes. Her paintings "combine text and images on abstract fields of color to express sociopolitical and spiritual concerns."[20] She has described herself ironically as a "painting chauvinist" due to an abiding preference for that medium, although she is also an accomplished printmaker and has created sophisticated Jacquard tapestries, artist books, and mixed media works in addition to her oil and alkyd works on canvas.

Carnwath’s paintings and works on paper in the 2000s and 2010s continued to explore a personal iconography, with new groups of symbols blending with those used throughout her career. Text-based works produced during this time include a series of song paintings, which utilize popular song titles tightly painted over blocks of color.[18]

In an essay for a 2001 Flintridge Foundation catalog, Noriko Gamblin describes the evolution of Carnwath's approach to composition and subject matter:

Although Carnwath quickly established a distinctive personal style, some aspects of her work have undergone gradual transformations. The strongly geometric structure— characterized by grids, quadrants, and contrasting color bands and fields—of her paintings of the 1980s and early 1990s has loosened into more fluid arrangements of diverse elements, which include structural motifs as well as "decorative" patterns. Similarly, her iconography, which was initially tied to a relatively circumscribed personal symbology, has both expanded and grown more allusive. The early lists, litanies, injunctions, and poetic observations have been joined by more casual notations, which often lend a topical immediacy to her work.[9]

In 2006, her work was part of the traveling multi-media art exhibit The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama.[21]

Solo exhibitions in 2015 and 2016 included: What Before Comes After, Jane Lombard Gallery, New York;[17] Songs, James Harris Gallery, Seattle;[22] Squeak Carnwath: The Unmediated Self, di Rosa, Napa; and Everyday Is Not the Same: Squeak Carnwath's Prints and Papers, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR.[23][24]

Public collections[edit]

Carnwath is represented in the following public collections:


In 1996, Chronicle Books published a 108-page monograph titled Squeak Carnwath: Lists, Observations & Counting with essays by Leah Levy and James and Ramsay Breslin. In 2009, the professional association between artist Squeak Carnwath and Karen Tsujimoto, senior curator of art at the Oakland Museum of California, culminated in the exhibition Squeak Carnwath: Painting Is No Ordinary Object (April 25 through August 23, 2009). The exhibition's companion book, Painting Is No Ordinary Object, is a 160-page retrospective of Carnwath's career. It features more than 80 color reproductions and essays by Tsujimoto and art critic and poet John Yau (co-published by Pomegranate, 2009).[34]


  1. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Bio". John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Retrieved 2016-01-20. 
  2. ^ "Squeak Carnwath". vcresearch.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2016-01-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Squeak Carnwath, Emeritus". Practice of Art. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-01-20. 
  4. ^ "Artists: Squeak Carnwath". Tamarind Institute of Lithography. Retrieved 2016-09-12. 
  5. ^ Heller, Jules (editor); Heller, Nancy G. (editor) (1995). North American women artists of the twentieth century. New York: Garland. p. 211. ISBN 0824060490. 
  6. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  7. ^ Yau, John (19 January 2014). "Weekend Studio Visit: Squeak Carnwath in Oakland, California". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  8. ^ Butterfield, David (10 November 1980). "National Recognition for Alameda Artist". Alameda Times-Star. Alameda. 
  9. ^ a b Gamblin, Noriko. (2001). " Squeak Carnwath," Catalog: Flintridge Foundation Awards for Visual Artists.
  10. ^ Gass, Alison; Zimbardo, Tanya (2011). Fifty Years of Bay Area Art: The SECA Awards. San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0918471893. 
  11. ^ Albright, Thomas (8 March 1982). "Imagism and a New Look". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco. 
  12. ^ Boettger, Suzaan (March 1984). "Out of This World". City Arts. 
  13. ^ Fowler, Carol (26 March 1984). "Some Objects Larger Than Life in Hearst Gallery Exhibition". Contra Costa Times. 
  14. ^ Scarborough, James (20 March 1982). "Squeak Carnwath at Hansen Fuller Goldeen Gallery". Artweek. 
  15. ^ "Squeak Carnwath at van Straaten Gallery". Art Now/New York Gallery Guide. February 1985. 
  16. ^ "Fall Ball by Squeak Carnwath". San Jose Museum of Art Online Collection. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  17. ^ a b Smith, Roberta (31 December 2015). "Review: Squeak Carnwath Speaks With Her Varied Palette". The New York Times. New York. 
  18. ^ a b Yau, John (1 November 2015). "Squeak Carnwath’s Guilt-Free Zone is Our Space". Hyperallergic.com. 
  19. ^ "Squeak Carnwath". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  20. ^ King, Sarah. (1998). "Squeak Carnwath at David Beitzel," Art in America. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  21. ^ "The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama". Fowler Museum at UCLA. Retrieved 2016-01-20. 
  22. ^ "Songs". James Harris Gallery. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  23. ^ Cipolle, Alex V. (11 February 2016). "Arts Hound". Eugene Weekly. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  24. ^ "UO Today". http://media.uoregon.edu/channel/archives/10661 Video Interview at the University of Oregon.
  25. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Artwork in Collection". Anderson Collection at Stanford University. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  26. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Artwork in Collection". Bowdoin College Art Museum. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  27. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Artwork in Collection". Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  28. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Artwork in Collection". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  29. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Artwork in Collection". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  30. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Artwork in Collection". Oakland Museum of California. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  31. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Artwork in Collection". San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  32. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Artwork in Collection". San Jose Museum of Art. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  33. ^ "Squeak Carnwath Artwork in Collection". Yale University Art Gallery. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  34. ^ "Squeak Carnwath: Painting is No Ordinary Object."

External links[edit]