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A Surreal Twist On Reality

Posted by on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in News and Events.


In honor of Marilyn Murphy, who will retire in 2017 after 37 years of teaching in Vanderbilt’s Department of Art, the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery presents MARILYN MURPHY – REALISM SUBVERTED. The exhibition opens January 19 with a reception from 4:30-6:30 pm, featuring an artist’s talk at 5:30 pm. The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public. The exhibition will be on view through March 3, 2017. The Fine Arts Gallery is located in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the Peabody College campus. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 11 am to 4 pm, Weekends 1-5 pm.

MARILYN MURPHY – REALISM SUBVERTED features paintings and drawings in which reality is turned upside down in dreamlike scenes with gravity-defying objects and figures diligently focused on a task. These figures’ earnest stances belie what is always, in fact, a very strange object of study. Murphy finds inspiration for her subjects in the popular culture of the 1940s and 1950s, presenting them with an attention to light and shadow that creates a sense of mystery and often incorporating dramatic effects from forces of nature – a sign of her youth on the Great Plains. She writes that “while occasionally my art has a political element, many of the pieces in this series comment upon the act of seeing, the creative process or some aspect of human experience.”

Joseph Mella, director of the Fine Arts Gallery, writes of Murphy’s work that, “In her deftly rendered drawings and detailed paintings, Murphy raises a curtain to a world that is quietly subversive and in many instances, layered with humor.” He describes these worlds where “huge shifts in scale…contribute to a sense that we have stumbled into an alternate reality.”

Murphy’s artwork has been shown in more than 380 exhibitions nationally and abroad and her pieces are in several public and private collections, including the Kemper Collection, the Boston Museum School, Siena Art Institute in Siena, Italy, and the Oklahoma Museum of Art. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville mounted a mid-career survey of her work in 2004, and she participated in a two-person exhibition at the Huntsville Museum of Art with Bob Trotman. She is represented by Cumberland Gallery in Nashville, Adler and Co. in San Francisco, Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago, and Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville, NC.

A fully illustrated catalog with an introductory essay by Peter Frank, an American art critic, curator, and poet, will be available in the gallery.

MARILYN MURPHY – REALISM SUBVERTED is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and is supported, in part, by the Department of Art, with additional support provided by the College of Arts and Science and the Ewers Gift for Fine Art.

will be on view January 19 – March 3, 2017
Gallery Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday