Weitzman News

Posted March 17, 2017
  • Artists' rendering of Warbler Migration Sculpture

Creating Sculpture from Climate Science and 1930s Car Design

Wife-husband collaborators and Fine Arts faculty members Deirdre Murphy and Scott White recently completed the fabrication process for the 51⁄2 by 25 foot sculpture that has transformed their private and public lives and taken over their studios since they were awarded this major public art project last June.

Slated for installation this May in Dublin, CA, Warbler Migration was inspired by a shy species that resides in the Dublin ecosystem, and one which Murphy developed a particular fondness for in the course of her research.

She has been researching the effects of global warming on bird migration for several years, using the visual data that scientists share with her to conceptualize and execute her paintings. The couple sees the opportunity to create environmentally-aware public art as an especially fulfilling one because of the potential to touch so many lives.

“Climate change has created new flight patterns; birds are staying in their summer homes longer, depleting the food supply they rely on to fuel their autumn journey,” says Murphy. “As educators, it’s important for us to share this knowledge. Embedding information about climate change in our art is a softer way to reach a broader audience.”

It was White’s task to take Murphy’s mesmerizing depictions of flocking birds and activate them into 3D space, which he did by digitally designing, then hand cutting and assembling more than 500 aluminum plates into a handcrafted hyperbolic curve.

This is the first time Murphy and White have collaborated on creating a sculptural work of art, and Murphy says their experience working together – while teaching at Penn and raising a family – has enriched their synergy as colleagues, co-collaborators, and life partners.