This exhibition is presented in honor of Marilyn Murphy, who will retire in 2017 after 37 years of teaching in the Department of Art at Vanderbilt University. Marilyn Murphy—Realism Subverted will feature 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 in the Great Plains. She writes, “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.”
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, the Siena Art Institute in Siena, Italy, and the Oklahoma Museum of Art. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, 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, North Carolina.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website