Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
The University of North Florida Gallery at the Museum of Contemporary Art, a cultural resource of UNF, and the UNF Department of Art and Design, present the exhibition, “Observing Objects: Works by Leigh Murphy,” curated by Dr. Debra Murphy, UNF Department of Art and Design chair, and Amara McMann, UNF Art Galleries coordinator.
The exhibition will be on view in the UNF Gallery at MOCA from today, Tuesday, March 25, to Sunday, May 11. A free reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at MOCA, located at 333 N. Laura St.
A graduate of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville and the University of Florida with a degree in graphic design, Murphy holds prestigious memberships in both the American Watercolor Society and the Oil Painters of America, a rare distinction.
Her works have been exhibited throughout the country and were selected by the U.S. State Department for exhibition in our embassies in Minsk Belarus, San Jose, Costa Rica and Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She is also represented in numerous corporate collections, including Disney and several of Northeast Florida’s hospitals, such as St Vincent’s and Baptist Health.
Those familiar with Murphy’s work will recognize the virtuosity of her technique. Although the temptation is to label her as a photo realist, an approach that emerged in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s with such artists as Richard Estes, Audrey Flack and Chuck Close, such a categorization isn’t quite accurate. Murphy utilizes her own photographs, often selecting details from several to serve as references and points of departure, with the artist adding, subtracting and even abstracting the subject. Where many of the early photo realists rejected a narrative or explicit meaning in their works, Murphy often has a message. Certainly her paintings can and should be read for their beauty and authenticity but there is often a compelling story or meaning behind them.
Recently she has been drawn to the tradition of the Kunst (art) or Wunder (marvels) Kammer (room) or the tradition of the cabinets of curiosities, often collected and amassed by the wealthy to reflect the collector’s erudition and sophistication. The Wunderkammer often contained products from the natural world (specimens like bones, ivory, insects, rocks and shells), products that were man-made and instruments that showed man’s power over the world.
Murphy’s “Kunstkammer” may strike the viewer as the laboratory of a mad scientist with its anatomical model, skulls, a double-headed skeleton, exotic birds and insects; however, she is interested in how we as individuals and also as members of societies embrace the value of what is precious or designate what is sacred.
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