Deirdre Murphy was one of my favorite professors throughout college because she has such passion and energy for art that she passes on to her students. She earned her MFA at the University of Pennsylvania where she teaches as an adjunct professor, and her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. Deirdre is represented by the Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia and Zinc Art + Interiors in Edmonds, WA. Her website is www.deirdremurphyart.com.
Interviewed and written by Terrill Warrenburg
Currently, Deirdre has two solo shows. At the Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia she is showcasing her newest work on the migratory patterns of birds. Looking at maps, scientific models, and visualizations of migratory patterns, she notes the role global warming has made on these patterns. Many of them, although seemingly dissimilar, overlap. These current works are in oil paint in larger, diptych formats. She is also showing previous work from 2010-2014 at the Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie Headquarters.
The Role of Gender as a Female Artist
First, Deirdre noted how gender impacts not only an artist’s studio practice but also professional life. In her own art, she embraces the “decorative” and bold colors/ decorative lines that are associated with femininity and “beauty.” Her inherent feminine gaze translates into her work. Furthermore, she notes how she chose to be a mother. This decision had a large impact on her studio life and all aspects of her professional career. “There is no ‘maternity leave’ when you are an artist,” she said. Having periods without gallery exhibitions leads to blips on one’s resume. She emphasized the challenging task of juggling being a mother, artist, and teacher.
Female Role Models
Deirdre respects and reveres many of her co-workers and teachers at the University of Pennsylvania. Joan Curran in particular is a great mentor who produces high quality work and embodies the passion of painting, an amazing teacher and on top of all of that, a mother. Jane Irish is another female artist role model who produces amazing art and is a strong female presence despite being soft spoken.
On how women can become more prevalent in the art world
“More grants for female artists! Grants play a pivotal role in the development of artists for funding supplies, shows and more. There are few grants that are available for female artists and especially parent artists. More such grants would enable female artists who are mothers to focus on a single career and have time to work on art as well as take care of their families. It is a similar problem as mothers face in the work force. It is also important to teach female artists to consider their career professionally and to train artists in their career paths so that they are not taken advantage of as an artist.” Deirdre also believes that more women’s art should be promoted in galleries and museums.