Undergraduate Fine Arts and Design

Posted September 15, 2015

Fine Arts Painting Instructor Deirdre Murphy:

Summer Residency at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary


What compelled you to take up an artist residency at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary? 

I have been painting up at Hawk Mountain for 3 years and continue to use the landscape and raptor images in my work. The intersection of art and science has always been of interest in my practice. The collective intelligence of flocking birds and the unpredictable patterns have been a source of inspiration for me. I wanted to work directly with the Hawk Mountain scientists and ask how global warming has changed the raptors migratory flight patterns and then to see how I might translate that information into paintings.

How long were you there?

I was only on the mountain for 3 days, but I was so inspired that I made 6 paintings, even in that compressed amount of time. My residency is ongoing, and I will be returning in the winter for another work session and again in the spring.

What did you learn over the course of the residency? How did the experience affect your creative process?  

The first day of the residency I interviewed three scientists who generously created graphs and maps according to my global warming flight pattern question. The scientists has just finished a 15 year study about the affects of global warming on migratory birds; my residency timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  The graphs and maps were so visually compelling with the irregularity of the patterns, the global satellite view of the landmass terrain, and the random colors that the scientists assign each bird. 

The timing of the residency was perfect for my upcoming exhibition in that I wanted to use the residency to make paintings that were outside of my comfort zone. Working with the scientist, hiking through the trails, watching the hawks begin their autumnal migration on top of the mountain and having access to a massive ornithology library has been like opening a flood gate in my creative process.  Now I just need more time to paint to get all of my ideas out!

Tell us a little more about your upcoming exhibition, Winds of Change

This exhibition explores the boundary between abstraction and perception and plays with the intersection of art and science.  Patterns and shapes are of primary concern because they act as both formal painting elements and symbolize a social networking system. The polygon shapes are birds and also the spaces in between the birds. At times the triangle shapes map out constellations or leaf patterns as I look for similarity of pattern across different forms in nature.

The show title evokes the question about global warming and also about a shift in focus formally as a painter toward abstract and pattern. I am excited to work with Margaret Winslow, Assistant Curator for the Contemporary Collection at the Delaware Art Center, on the exhibition essay. This exhibition has also provided an opportunity to work with UPENN interns. Talia Lieberman was my Graphic Design Intern who did a fabulous job redesigning my website in time for my exhibition. John Vella was my Research Intern and assisted in social media marketing as well as website development.  Emily Belshaw, also a Graphic Design Intern, is currently designing the exhibition catalog. I am so grateful for all of their assistance, enthusiasm and excellence.

Exhibition dates:

November 4-28, 2015

Reception: Friday, November 6 from 5-7pm.

Link to my website for gallery information: http://www.deirdremurphyart.com/news/