For over two decades, Todd Murphy has been exploring a practice that combines sculpture, painting and photography. With the wide-eyed inquisitiveness of a 19th century Naturalist, Murphy has travelled extensively to the far reaches of the world, collecting, photographing and fastidiously cataloging melting glaciers, aviary species, exotic fruits and more. These photographic studies of curiosities are sources for his complex narratives that frequently feature archetypal themes from philosophy and mythology.
Murphy’s interests however go beyond these classical prototypes and include subtle subtexts of bigotry, Southern history and fantastic literary stories as Ulysses. In the end his recurring protagonists of horses, birds, dresses, boats, are poetic vehicles for a humanistic discourse – the contradictory nature of Man is as a privileged species as well as just another creature in a web of life. Furthermore, hierarchies of privilege and status within the human species are merely conceits. Murphy is committed to the rigors of each discipline – in painting he prefers traditional, even anachronistic methods of oil painting. Some paintings are accentuated with an additional layer of painted Plexiglas, producing a perspectival illusion of depth. Such is the phenomenological aspect of Murphy’s work. In assemblage, Murphy alchemizes ramshackle castaway objects from junkyards and thrift shops to unlock their buried language. In one of his “dress” assemblages, a billowing dress of twigs collected from the Southern coastline when combined with an antique tailor’s mannequin is exalted to an eccentric Degas Dancer.
Ultimately, Murphy’s indelible belief is in the interconnectedness of all things – that the Spiritual and Natural World can intertwine in beautiful, unforeseen ways.