Obstacle Course, 2010
Colored Pencil on paper
30” x 22”
Courtesy the artist
Vanderbilt Artists Exhibit
Work by Artists from Vanderbilt University's Department of Art
(October 21 – December 9, 2010)
Marilyn Murphy is an artist whose drawings and oil paintings create curious situations implying a larger story that often explores dualities both formally and conceptually (safety and danger, peace and turmoil, fire and water). A Professor of art at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, her work has been shown in more than 300 exhibitions nationally and abroad. Recently, she had solo exhibitions at Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago and Cumberland Gallery in Nashville. Last summer, her work was on display at Ceres Gallery in New York, Carl Hammer Gallery and Art Chicago as well as Gallery Up in the Gettys Art Center in Old Town Rock Hill, South Carolina.
My drawings in graphite or colored pencil typically include one or two figures involved in an improbable action or working at some curious task. Many of the pieces in this series comment upon the act of seeing, the creative process, or some aspect of human experience. Strong lighting and shadows create a sense of mystery while the identities of the men and women are obscured in order to direct the focus of the viewer toward their activity. Magazines from the 1940s and early 1950s, including the instructional photographs in Popular Science, often inspire my work. Having grown up on the Great Plains, I often include the action of the wind in my work. Often the objects are beyond reach or curiously out of human scale to create a dreamlike atmosphere where the objects can be read as symbolic or actual.