MARGARET MURPHY : DOLLAR STORE DIVAS
Opening Reception: Friday, March 1, 2013, 7–9 p.m.
The Majestic Theatre Condominiums 222 Montgomery Street Jersey City, NJ 07302 201.435.8000
Exhibition on view in the lobby from March 1, 2013 to May 31, 2013
SILVERMAN AND MAJESTIC THEATRE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION present “Margaret Murphy: Dollar Store Divas,” curated by Brendan Carroll. The exhibition presents a series of acrylic and watercolor paintings on paper. Murphy draws inspiration from her native Baltimore and her adopted hometown of Jersey City, with its diversity, blue-collar neighborhoods, and dollar stores.
For the last decade, Margaret Murphy has developed her own genre of portraiture: sentimental, pensive, abstract, and matter-of-fact. Murphy’s “sitters” are a collection of mass-produced figurines that she purchases in 99¢ stores. The collection includes girls, princesses, mothers, and whores, and the occasional family of bunny rabbits.
Margret Murphy, Sweet 16 with Brice Marden, 2007, Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 22 x 15 inches
To see her pictures of girly figurines as saccharine would be easy but limited, and dead wrong. Murphy is indebted to the critique of how women are objectified in American society. She writes: “The female figurines represent the ‘woman’ in a post-feminist analytical arena, one that has been objectified on many levels.” In her work, Murphy is constantly returning to issues regarding gender, class, and consumerism.
The subjects in Murphy’s paintings occupy the center of the composition like religious icons. In this matter, they borrow specific tropes from art history. They exist in fields of pure color, nondescript settings, and decorative backgrounds. The effect is jarring, as it thrusts her models into the viewer’s space. From this vantage point, the viewer can see how Murphy uses harsh side lighting to illuminate each model. This tactic, which contrasts light and shadow, suggests volume, form, depth, and weight. It is as if Murphy wants the viewer to feel as though he reach out and grab the model.
Murphy does not depict the faces of her sitters, but their backsides, from head to toe. The tactic is not arbitrary but full of cheek, so to speak. If these figurines operate as surrogates for women, is Murphy suggesting that society perceives women as nothing more than a nice derrière? A thing to be ogled, squeezed? As viewers, where do we stand, as we eyeball the backside of countless statuettes?
Murphy is constantly pushing herself as a painter—experimenting with medium, color, composition, light, and shadow. The paintings of figurines owe as much to the 19th-century French painter Manet, or the 20th-century American Alex Katz, as to kitsch.
Margaret Murphy, Rabbits (hear no evil…), Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 22 x 15 inches
What is most interesting about Murphy’s work is how she is able to balance the “serious” and the “playful,” without allowing one to undo the other. She is often cited as working in the tradition of Pop Art, which is true, but it’s not the whole truth. Like Warhol, she is concerned with making art about banal objects of mass consumption. But where Warhol was cool and ironic, Murphy is discriminating and judicious.
Margaret Murphy is a painter, curator, and professor. Her work is included in many national collections, including the Deutsche Bank, Jersey City Museum, and Hudson County Community College Foundation, as wells as numerous private collections. New Jersey City University, Ramapo College, Rosenberg Art Galleries, Real Art Ways, Visual Art Center of New Jersey, Pentimenti Gallery, and HPGRP Gallery have organized solo exhibitions of her work. The New York Times, ArtInfo.com, Art Fag City, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Star-Ledger have reviewed her work, to name a few. Murphy is the recipient of many awards, including New Jersey Print and Paper Fellowship, Pollock Krasner Foundation Individual Artist Grant, New Jersey State Arts Council Fellowship, and P.S.122 Studio Residency.
Murphy earned her Bachelor of Science from Towson State University, and she earned her Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 1992. Currently, she teaches at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD and New Jersey City University in Jersey City, NJ. She was born in Baltimore, MD. She lives and works in Jersey City, NJ.
The exhibition will be on view at The Majestic Theatre Condominiums through May 31, 2013. For further information, please visit us at SilvermanBuilding.com or call number (201) 435-8000.
Margaret Murphy: Dollar Store Divas the thirteenth exhibition that Brendan Carroll will organize for SILVERMAN.
For additional information, go here: Margaret Murphy.
This event is part of JC Fridays.
SILVERMAN has presented the works of Valeri Larko, Tenesh Webber, Glenn Garver, Jennifer Krause Chapeau, Michelle Doll, Tim Heins, Megan Maloy, Laurie Riccadonna, Thomas John Carlson, Tim Daly, Ann Flaherty, Scott Taylor, Jason Seder, Sara Wolfe, Beth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi Kumagai, Tom McGlynn, Victoria Calabro, Asha Ganpat, Darren Jones, Ryan Roa,Laura Napier, Risa Puno, Nyugen E. Smith, Amanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.
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