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This catalog was published to accompany the exhibition Winds of Change, a solo show at Gross McCleaf Gallery, November 2015. Catalog essay: Margaret Winslow Special thanks to the Department of Fine Arts in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania for funding and the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary for artist in residence program. Cover Image Deirdre Murphy / Dawn, detail.


Gross McCleaf Gallery 127 S. 16th Street Philadelphia, PA 19102 Designed by Emily Belshaw Photos by Karen Mauch and Rebecca McAlpin


November 4th–28th GROSS McCLEAF GALLERY 127 S. 16th Street | Philadelphia PA 19102


Spontaneous Order / Oil on canvas / 60 Ă— 40 in. / 2015


Not less important are the observers of the birds than the birds themselves. — Henry David Thoreau from Journal X, March 20, 1858

By Margaret Winslow

In her most recent body of work, on view in Winds

Associate Curator for Contemporary Art Delaware Art Museum

scientific exploration of the flora and fauna that have

of Change, Deirdre Murphy has embarked on a fresh inhabited her canvases for years. In August 2015, Murphy spent the first week of a year-long artist residency at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Pennsylvania. The Sanctuary was incorporated in 1938 as the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and as such is an important preserve for the research and conservation of falcons, ospreys, hawks, eagles, vultures, and owls. While there, Murphy fueled her interest in these creatures—obtaining data on migratory routes—and observed the quiet passage of time. Murphy’s fascination with spontaneous and deliberate movements— murmuration and migration—of birds, the relationships between stars in the sky, the construction of a flower, and the structural engineering of power lines inspire her investigations of the natural and constructed world around her. Murphy is a keen observer of the relationships between the micro and the macro, those points in space that align travel routes to constellations and flight trajectories to wind currents. She approaches



this interest with the attentiveness of a scientist,

painting, the artist constructs multiple vantage points

observing, researching, and tracking changes. The shifts

throughout her compositions. The formal elements—

that occur—the effects of global warming on raptor

the horizon line, migratory routes, perched birds, and

migration—are noted but not critiqued, and similarly

swarming shapes—guide the viewer through the painting

the industrial patterning created across a morning sky

from shallow depths in the foreground to infinite spaces

is handled with care and precision devoid of appraisal.

beyond. Murphy’s formal means are accentuated by

Murphy’s paintings link nature’s aesthetics in a manner

her interest in color theory, and use of complementary

similar to how a social graph makes users aware of

hues, as well as variation in mark making between

their interconnectedness; the formal similarities are

hard-edge shapes and hand-drawn, circuitous lines.

emphasized for the viewer’s contemplation.

Through observing such differences, one is able to take

Beginning in 2014 with her painting, Seasonal Passage,

flight through the canvas. Ultimately Murphy’s paintings

Murphy incorporated a new formal device to highlight

make visible the wonder of time. Her Fall Migration and

the voids—the interstellar medium—she observes. In

Spring Migration mark the passage of hours through

this canvas, the artist connects the points between

the slow advance of pokeweed shadows across the

flocking birds, creating polygons that accentuate the

panel’s surface—the shifts in daylight and continuity of

mass of clusters moving through the sky. The resulting

perpetual routines. In the exhibition’s title work, Winds

shape—informed in part by an encounter with Robert

of Change, time is suspended among swirling leaves or

Goodnough’s Dark Blue Cluster (1979, Delaware Art

a gust of wind, held in a moment between action and

Museum)—is further developed in Murphy’s current

stasis. Murphy’s canvases capture that tenuous point

body of work. The triangles populating Chatter double

where journeys past shift to trajectories forward.

as both a flock of birds noisily gathered in the trees and the foliage itself in which the birds are nestled. Dawn finds the flock waiting to alight on a telephone wire. In Dreaming of Achill, the floating forms no longer retain a strict correlation to birds and instead can be read as the depiction of wind sweeping over the Irish island. Murphy also utilizes the bird as a means through which to enter the canvas. Fascinated by Japanese scroll


Spring Jewel / Oil on canvas / 48 Ă— 36 in. / 2015


Dawn / Oil on canvas / 36 Ă— 48 in. / 2015


Winds of Change / Oil on canvas / 36 Ă— 48 in. / 2015


Red Bud / Oil on canvas / 30 Ă— 30 in. / 2015


Ricochet / Oil on canvas / 30 Ă— 30 in. / 2015


Spring Migration / Acrylic on panel / 16 Ă— 48 in. / Triptych / 2015



Chatter / Oil on canvas / 20 Ă— 20 in. / 2015


Night Flight / Oil on canvas / 30 Ă— 30 in. / 2015


Summer / Acrylic on panel / 16 Ă— 16 in. / 2015


Morning Glories / Oil on canvas / 20 Ă— 20 in. / 2015


Dreaming of Achill / Oil on canvas / 36 Ă— 96 in. / Diptych / 2015



Sky Fall / Oil on canvas / 40 Ă— 30 in. / 2015


Commute (Alone We Journey Together) / Oil on canvas / 40 Ă— 60 in. / 2015

Philadelphia and numerous select group exhibitions in New York, Delaware, California, and Oregon. Her work has been exhibited at institutions including the Philadelphia International Airport, Palm Springs Museum of Art, Biggs Museum, New Bedford Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania and has taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art and been


a visiting artist at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania College of Design and University of Texas. Her work has been published in Fresh Paint Magazine, New American Paintings and can be found in many public and private collections including Colorado Springs Fine Art Center Museum, Temple University, AlphaMed Press and Gamblin Artists Colors. She is represented by the Deirdre Murphy lives and paints in Philadelphia. The

Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia and Zinc Art +

recipient of numerous awards and grants, most notably

Interiors in Edmonds, WA. Her work can be viewed at

the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Fellowship and a

Leeway Foundation award, she has been an artist-inresidence at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary (Kempton, PA), Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) and Pouch Cove Artist Residency (St. Johns, Newfoundland). She earned her MFA degree from the University of Pennsylvania (2000) and her BFA degree from the Kansas City Art Institute (1991). Deirdre’s work has been shown internationally in South Korea and Italy with solo exhibitions in

Š Deirdre Murphy 2015 All Rights Reserved

Profile for Deirdre Murphy

DEIRDRE MURPHY / Winds of Change Exhibition Catalog  

Deirdre Murphy is a contemporary painter based in Philadelphia, PA. Her work investigates the intersection of art, science and conservation....

DEIRDRE MURPHY / Winds of Change Exhibition Catalog  

Deirdre Murphy is a contemporary painter based in Philadelphia, PA. Her work investigates the intersection of art, science and conservation....