Carolyn Berry Becker
June 27, 1930 – Dec. 22, 2015
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Carolyn Berry Becker. A private and contemplative person, Carolyn was also passionate and unconventional in her views. She was born to Florence and Charles Berry in Sweet Springs, Mo., studied at Columbia College in Missouri and the Chicago Art Institute, earning her bachelor’s degree in painting from the Univ. of Mo. In 1953, she married Benjamin Bishop with whom she had two daughters, D. Rachael and Rebecca. Carolyn showed nationally and internationally throughout her life. In the 50s and 60s, her work drew from abstract expressionism. Always a pioneer, Carolyn was one of the first book artists. She used old school readers, novels, and geography books from antique shops, clipping out windows, pasting in photographs and key phrases, drawing and painting upon the pages to create a multi-layered work of art that revealed itself both visually and narratively.
When Carolyn and Ben divorced, she moved with her daughters to Arcata, Ca., where she earned a master’s degree in education from Humboldt State. Carolyn was executive director of Handicapped Activities Unlimited in Pacific Grove from 1971 to 1988. In 1974, she married Bob Becker, a devoted husband who built, by hand, the studio that Carolyn would enjoy for decades throughout their 39-year marriage. In the mid-70s, Carolyn’s work became increasingly figurative and she turned to watercolor and clayboard. She was an eclectic artist and writer, working in painting, drawing, photography, assemblage, collage, sculpture, artists’ books, poetry, fiction and biography. She also worked to support other artists, particularly women. Carolyn was an original member of the N. Ca. chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art and a member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and her work was part of a WIA traveling exhibition in 1977.
She was a great reader who enjoyed history, art, poetry, biographies and romance. She traced various lines of our family’s genealogy to Eleanor of Aquitaine, presidents William and Benjamin Harrison and Daniel Boone. Carolyn is survived by daughters D. Rachael Bishop, Rebecca Bishop and Jewel Bishop-Fiorito; grandchildren, Chayo Fuentes, L. Benjamin Kelly, and Ronan I. Kelly. In keeping with her wishes, a family service was held.
Carolyn Berry Becker