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Chris Carraher is a native of California, born and raised in a postwar working-class suburb of the eastern Los Angeles basin. Since 1992 she has been in the Mojave Desert and lives and works on a vintage homestead in Wonder Valley.  The homestead cabins and the desert as both physical and metaphysical landscape have figured prominently in both her artwork and her activism.  She co-directed the Wonder Valley Homestead Cabin Festival in 2008, a pivotal event in bringing the homesteads into community social, political, and aesthetic consciousness.  After years of working in pastel she is now exploring her enduring interest in gesture and color through acrylic and collage


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The first words I chose for myself, my mother told me, were the names of the colors in the Crayola box (the BIG box).  That intersection of color with language/meaning/mark ignited me, and those elements continue to drive my work:  Color, calling us with the force and moods of a lover.  Language as text as line, connecting points, dividing space, describing dimensions.  And gesture, the action of the body asserting meaning with a mark. 

Now at the other end of life, I find what matters is this:  the aspiration, in all our awkwardness and misfortune, towards beauty, an emulation of that pitiless grace that enfolds us and of which we are made.  I dream of making art that provides us with both solace and provocation, a recognition of the questioning heart and spirit of another.

Roots:  Those same child’s eyes opened upon a postwar popular visual culture still influenced by the delicacy and joy of late Dufy and Matisse but energized by burgeoning Mid-century Modernism and Abstract Expressionism.  Pacific Rim influences were strong in West Coast local culture, Asian and Latin and especially Mexican, as well as the Indigenous. But traces of Arts Nouveau and Deco and the Arts and Crafts movement still lingered in second-hand shops and family heirlooms, fabrics and décor, illustration and architecture.  These were some of my roots, early influences that still resonate for me today.

upcoming events

April-May 2024: My Dead Girlfriend’s Art – 2

MDGA2 group exhibition curated by Francene Kaplan as a tribute to artist Barbara Austin. April 13-May 5, with reception at 5 pm on Saturday April 13. Sneak preview with experimental music Friday April 12 at 8 pm. At the Beatnik Lounge, 61597 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree, CA 92252.

past exhibitions and projects

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  • Experiments in Living 1:  How Minorities Conquered the Wild WestSomeplace Magazine, 2015
  • Experiments in Living 2:  Reclaiming Old Homestead CabinsSomeplace Magazine, 2015
  • Jackrabbit Homestead: Artists, Off-Roaders, and the American Dream Writ MiniatureKCET ArtBound, May 2012
  • Don’t Fence Me InThe Desert Sun (PDF), August 2009
  • Shed Reckoning:  The Wonder Valley Homestead Cabin Festival captures the mystique of those historic huts that dot the High DesertDune Magazine (PDF), Feb/Mar 2008
  • Homestead: Where the Heart IsHi-Desert Star (PDF), February 2008
  • Praise for the CabinThe Desert Trail (PDF), February 2008

Photo credit: Magicgroove Studio by Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun