Alicia McCarthy

2017 SECA Art Award Recipient

Interwoven colored stripes against a beige background
A rainbow striped X against two red, stacked horizontal canvases
Stacked horizontal color blocks against a speckled brown canvas

Alicia McCarthy, Untitled, 2017; collection of Joachim and Nancy Hellman Bechtle

Alicia McCarthy, Untitled, 2015; private collection

Alicia McCarthy, Untitled, 2016; collection of Cassandra and Paul Hazen


An undeniable energy imbues the work of Alicia McCarthy (b. 1969). Her compositions, whether painted or drawn, are constructed through a repetitive process of mark making, a sensitivity to hue and pigment density, and an openness to the distinct character of each gesture. Colors are never used directly from the tube; each is mixed just before application and determined by the preceding tone. Highlighting the imperfections of her materials, she embraces drips and splatters and does not overwork her lines or surfaces. She approaches her “positive” textile-like images (with filled-in lines) and “negative” weaves (with filled-in ground) the same way: beginning in the middle and expanding outward. She often incorporates friends’ work into her installations, including drawings by ORFN (Aaron Curry), a prolific and influential Bay Area graffiti artist who passed away last year.


Artist Alicia McCarthy explains her repetitive painting practice, in which she weaves bands of colors into tapestry-like patterns.