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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Margaret Murphy

Jersey City,
United States

Margaret Murphy is a New York based painter. Born in Baltimore, MD, she now lives in Jersey City, NJ. Murphy received her B.A. in 1990 from Towson State University and her M.F.A. in 1992 from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Murphy is the recipient of many professional awards. These include a 2010 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a New Jersey State Arts Council Fellowship in Painting (2008), a Puffin Foundation Grant, two Geraldine R. Dodge Fellowships and a Change Inc. Grant. She has participated in artist residencies including: the MacDowell Colony, Newark Museum, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. Murphy has exhibited her paintings and works on paper nationally and internationally at HPGRP Gallery in NY and Japan, Pentimenti Gallery, Real Art Ways, Cheryl McGinnis Gallery, the Jersey City Museum, and ArtNews Projects in Berlin. Publications and literature include five reviews in The New York Times, New American Painting #63, The Star Ledger, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Jersey Journal, and State of the Arts, a half hour PBS program featuring prominent New Jersey artists. Murphy’s work can be found in numerous private and public collections including the following: Deutsche Bank, Jersey City Museum, Hudson County Community College Foundation. Murphy is also an accomplished curator mounting over a dozen contemporary art exhibitions in the New York/ New Jersey area.

Feminist Artist Statement

Growing up in a working class Irish Catholic neighborhood in Baltimore, I learned early on that iconic subjects and cheap trinkets play a large part in how women are viewed. Residing now in Jersey City, NJ, I am reminded of that past through the proliferation of dollar stores and knick-knacks sold on every street corner (and sitting on every computer monitor). In my paintings I study these mass-produced objects and how the role of women is often defined by a society’s cherished possessions. A delicate ballerina, a sweet sixteen figurine, the Madonna, and the promiscuous woman are all common female stereotypes and found in abundance in the knick-knack and figurine oeuvre, but they are also found in religion, pop culture, history, and education. I examine these objectified views of women, as seen through the figurine, and the society that makes, buys, and sells them.

Color and pattern play an important role in my paintings. Each painting and work on paper is a story layered with personal meaning. For the most part, the protagonists in my paintings are women. As a painter I am working in a medium that has been dominated by men, and the weight of that history is always present. I make paintings that reflect a woman’s point of view and question how women have been portrayed in history and art history. For this reason all of my work is personal, even when the subject is more political, like the series “The Parlor Paintings.” This series consists of twenty oval paintings that show views of women (as seen through the object) as either good or bad. As described by Dr. Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, PhD, Curator, Jersey City Museum, “Margaret Murphy’s post-feminist portraits of mass-produced objects address the artificially created dichotomy of women into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories. As objects of mass consumption, the figurines serve to underscore this system of (mis)identification. By adapting them for her work, the artist critiques the role of the object, and, by extension, the complicity of the consumer and the spectator.”

In addition to my painting practice I am also a curator. In my curatorial practice I am most known for exhibitions that highlight the work of women artists. Sometimes directly addressing gender, and sometimes not, my curatorial work reflects the range of subjects and interests of women artists working today.

<p>The Parlor Paintings</p>

The Parlor Paintings

Installation view of The Parlor Paintings at REAL ART WAYS, Aug. 2008. Series of paintings based on 99cent store and eBay figurines representing women as either “good” or “bad.” The oval frames are a nod to Victorian parlor paintings and photographs.

The Parlor Paintings

Installation view of The Parlor Paintings at REAL ART WAYS, Aug. 2008. Series of paintings based on 99cent store and eBay figurines representing women as either “good” or “bad.” The oval frames are a nod to Victorian parlor paintings and photographs.

Yellow Flowers

Mother and Child

American Family Triptych

Triptych painting on watercolor paper

Fallen

Celebration

Mixed media work on paper

girl down

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