On Artfcity, Whitney Kimball observed,
with some justification, that young artists these days seem broadly reluctant
to incorporate confrontational political content into their work. But there are many
salutary role models, from William Powhida and Jen Dalton to Marlene Dumas and Steve Mumford. Wedding heart and craft, Margaret Murphy should also be included on the list.
Stressed out from the onslaught of horrendous news reports, Murphy
tried to stop paying attention but soon realized how porous our homes
have become since plugging into the Internet and social networking
media. Every time she turned on the computer, she was bombarded by
disturbing images, opinions, and unbearable news reports. In response,
her new installation in Gallery Aferro’s Project Room
fuses wallpaper patterns, home decoration, and sewing projects with the
current events that most unsettled her, including international women�s
rights issues, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Sandy Hook
elementary school shooting.
the central image with one depicting a devastating current event.
Having painted large images of diminutive figurines for years, Murphy
is now creating three-dimensional tableaux and working with digital
imagery. “I like the shift in presence from hand crafted to the mediated
image,” she told me when I visited her attic studio a few weeks before
she installed the exhibition. “The combination allows more freedom to
explore complex themes and juxtapositions.”
At Aferro, Murphy presents a
thought provoking series of small paintings, a site-specific silkscreened wall, and a
handmade dress that her daughter, Morgan Fernandez, designed and sewed
using Murphy’s original fabric.
Of course, returning to the ArtFCity post mentioned at the top, an alternative reality might be that younger artists are making
work with political content, but many commercial galleries and curators are
reluctant to organize exhibitions with challenging substance. After all, wealthy collectors, comfortable with formal abstraction, may not want to buy it.
“Toile News Project: Margaret Murphy,” Gallery Aferro, Project Room, Newark, NJ. Through December 14, 2013.