Home » In PlaceSpring 2008

In Place with Marilyn Murphy

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Professor of Art Marilyn Murphy’s spacious studio-office fills a corner of the third floor of the E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center. The space serves as photography studio for taking digital images of works, carpentry workshop for building crates for shipping canvases and artwork, library for reference works and images, supply storeroom, counseling center for interaction with students, and work studio for Murphy’s oil paintings, graphite drawings, and printmaking.

Click wherever you see a *to find out more about Professor Murphy’s space!


“The Oasis” is one of 16 works exhibited in Murphy’s one-woman show titled Wind Mischief at the prestigious Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago. Gallery curator Carl Hammer personally chose the works to appear in the show. Each piece reflects Murphy’s oft-reoccurring themes of wind and flight. “The individual pieces hang together well as a body of work,” Murphy says.
The near corner-to-corner windows let in the natural light requisite for capturing colors and tones.
Vanderbilt gives faculty and staff a commemorative chair in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the university. Murphy’s rocker, black with gilded trim and featuring the university seal, provides needed seating.
Murphy rescued the 1960s-era orange fiberglass chair when the art department moved from the Cohen Memorial Building. “It’s a great design, made by Herman Miller,” she says, not to mention wacky and eye-catching.
The mechanical pencil on a chain is part of the approximately 100 in Murphy’s collection. A flea market find, it originally served as a pencil and a telephone dialer. “They all do tricks or have advertising,” she says of her collected pieces.
As director of studio art when the new studio arts building was in the works, Murphy sat in on dozens of planning meetings. The architects and designers suggested carpeted floors, but Murphy insisted on a surface that would stand up to paint, plaster, ink, clay, chalk, and more. The spots under the camera lights are not from art materials, however. They appeared during the installation process.
Her green apron is splashed with ink of all hues from the hours Murphy spends teaching printmaking and creating prints.
Some of Murphy’s surrealistic graphite drawings begin here.  She’s known for her juxtaposition of everyday life with images and situations that are just a bit off kilter.
Murphy teaches drawing and composition, painting (all levels), printmaking and relief printing. “I love to teach. Art can allow students to view the environment around them with greater awareness. Because drawing is learning techniques and strategies as well as developing ideas, anyone can learn to draw,” she says.

Photo by John Russell.

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