Mixed media artist sees drama in Breck
summit daily news
After a couple days at the Tin Shop in Breckenridge, mixed media artist Ann Murphy thought to herself, “What am I doing here? I’m still obsessed with whales and wildlife in the Northeast.”
But then she took a walk and found herself at the Edwin Carter Museum, where a wall of deer heads with large antlers captured her attention. Suddenly, she knew why she was here.
“I’m going to focus on the surroundings of Breckenridge, because I’m at this totally unique place, (and) I’m a blank slate,” she said.
She just finished a body of work in January that involved birds, and she wasn’t sure what to do next. And since she started studying art, she has moved from one genre of art to the next.
“I do just about everything,” she said.
She earned her first undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas in French, hoping to set up a magnificent life in Paris – or something. What she ended up with was “a really boring day job.” But that led her to begin reading about artists and visiting museums, which drew her to the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1992.
“I’ve had creative urges all my life, but I didn’t get going on it until I was 26,” she said.
As an undergrad, she studied painting but found she wasn’t having much fun, and she didn’t think she was very good. So, as a graduate student, she switched to sculpture of all kinds – stone, metal and wood. The problem: By the time she graduated, “my body was so beaten up by (using) a hammer and chisel.”
So she began creating videos about repetition – mostly human habits and ruts, but also naturally occurring patterns found in nature, such as tree bark, bird formations and water ripples. Her inspiration continued by watching the “flow of humanity” through the subways and streets of New York City. Thus, her pattern depiction took on the huge scales of Grand Central Station and stretched to the tiny forms in nature, such as “petals” of a pinecone.
After five solid years of videoing, she stopped abruptly and wasn’t sure why. She then returned to paper and pencil in 2006.
“I think I just needed to get simple because video is really complicated,” she said.
This month, she’s enjoying the bare-bones mining structures and cabins in Breckenridge, particularly against the backdrop and “glory” of the mountains.
“It’s really dramatic,” she said. “I feel lucky; I’m just going to respond to the history of Breckenridge.”
And, amidst her new body of work, she’ll host a public workshop March 23 on animal paper mache sculptures.
“Ann’s drawings tell tales of the sculptural creatures that are waiting to come to life from her imagination,” said Jenn Cram, Arts District coordinator. “Ann’s use of materials in multiples creates a dramatic presentation.”
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