Images Biography

Marilyn Murphy


Artist Statement

“Since moving from the Great Plains in 1980, I continue to be influenced by the rich storytelling traditions of the South. Where I live deeply affects my work. The scent of the earth here exudes a mystery to me that I am trying to solve with my own visual language. Not by copying elements of the landscape onto canvas or paper but by delving into time. Many of my works comment upon the act of seeing, the creative process or some aspect of human relationships. More recently oblique references to our current political landscape or the experience of women in our culture often surfaces in my work.

 The narrative quality and chiaroscuro lighting from Film Noir as well as the sense of optimism in magazines from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s often informs my drawings and paintings. Like a film still, the story must be determined by the viewer. I manipulate scale or light to create an atmosphere that moves beyond reality. The action of the wind and the fleeting nature of clouds currently informs and creates a stage setting for my ideas.Ephemeral environments have played a role in my work for many years both for their beauty and possible danger.In the last few years I have turned my focus from the ground and into the sky.Previously, I developed a body of work that studied fire as a symbolic (or not) motif.”


Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Marilyn Murphy is a Professor of Art Emerita at Vanderbilt University. Her work has been shown in over 390 exhibitions nationally and abroad. She has had a mid-career survey at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and a two-person exhibition at the Huntsville Museum of Art. Marilyn has recently had solo shows of her paintings and drawings at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Cumberland Gallery (their final solo exhibition), The Customs House Museum in Clarksville and the Fine Arts Gallery at Vanderbilt University. Marilyn’s work is in many public and private collections including Huntsville Museum of Art, the Boston Museum School, the Prudential and Bridgestone Collections.

“There is a particular logic inherent in Murphy’s conjunction, one based on visual punning and the slightly too bright, almost halated quality of her tonalities.  If this is dreamin, it is lucid dreaming, a knowing exploitation of the dream state by Murphy to provide her and us, with images and sensations of improbably freedom and thrilling or hilarious juxtaposition.”
- Peter Frank, Curator and Art Critic, Los Angeles

“Murphy’s command of her mediums is convenient, but ultimately incidental to the ideas behind her images--ideas that, like the sand in an oyster, irritate us    into thinking and become beauty in the process, ideas that peer out from behind clouds like a coquettish moon, then disappear into memory.”
- Lucy Lippard - Writer, Activist and Curato



2017     Research Grant, Vanderbilt University, Nashville

2011     Research Grant, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

2004     Chancellor’s Award for Research, Vanderbilt University.

Award for Outstanding Artwork, Tulane Review of Art and Literature, Tulane Univ, New Orleans, LA

            Research Scholar Grant toward Mid Career Survey, Vanderbilt University ($4300)

2003     Research Scholar Grant toward Catalog Publication, Vanderbilt University ($25,000)

            Distinguished Faculty Award, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

2001     Honorable Mention, Puna Art Contemporary Art Center, Pahoa, Hawaii.

2000     University Research Council Grant, Vanderbilt University.

1996     National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship Archive, National Museum of                                              American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.

            Tri Kappa Award, Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, Indiana, Juror: Nancy Hoffman, Gallerist.

1995     Merit Award, Water Tower Annual, Louisville Visual Art Association, Louisville, Kentucky.

            Top Purchase Award, National Painting Competition, Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville,                             TN Jurors: Robert Ryman, Painter/Inge-Lise Eckmann, San Francisco MoMA  ($10,000)

            2 Purchase Awards, Parkside National Print Exhibition, University of WI, Kenosha, WI. Juror:  Terry                Terry Allen, Artist.

            Venture Fund Grant, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN ($10,000).

1991     First Place in 2-Dimensional category, “Patchwork of Many Lives,” Huntsville Museum of Art,                                     Huntsville, AL, Juror: Connie Butler, Curator, Artists Space, New York.

            Purchase Award, Evansville Museum of Arts And Science, Evansville, IN

1990     Fellowship, Southern Arts Federation ($5,000).

1988     Fellowship, TN Arts Commission, Juror: Lowery Sims, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY ($5000)



(Work in almost 400 exhibitions since 1980 and curated over 35 exhibitions.)

2019     Marilyn Murphy, Anderson Gallery, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA Solo Show.

            The Customs House Museum Invitational, Clarksville, TN

            A 39 Year Retrospective Invitational Exhibition, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            Draw Invitational, Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina

            Solo Show, Volunteer State University, Gallatin, TN

            Solo Show,

            Connecting the Dots Invitational, Curb Center Gallery Exhibition, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

2018     Marilyn Murphy/Barry Buxkamper, 21c Museum Hotel, Nashville, TN

            Some Familiar Faces, Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

         Wish You Were Here, A. I. R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

         Marilyn Murphy: Atmospheric Perspective, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN, Solo show.

2017     Marilyn Murphy: Realism Subverted, Solo exhibition, Fine Arts Gallery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

            Marilyn Murphy: Short Stories, Solo exhibition, The Customs House Museum, Clarksville, TN

            Marilyn Murphy: Magic Realism, Solo exhibition, Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA

            Mind the Gap: Works in Black and White, Invitational, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            Cars in Art Invitational, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, MS

            Marilyn Murphy:  Wind Mischief, Solo exhibition, Moreman Maloney Contemporary, Louisville, KY

            Small Packages, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            New Arrivals Invitational, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

2016     Women’s Caucus for Art Exhibition, Arc Project Gallery, San Francisco, CA

            “Women’s History Month Exhibition,” Florissant Valley College, St. Louis, MO

            Adler & Co Gallery, San Francisco, CA

            “Local Fare” Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “Storytellers,” Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN Panel discussion and exhibition.

2015     “Black and White Invitational,” Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, NC

            “Women Do It!” Women’s Caucus for Art traveling exhibition including the College Art Association, NY, UN Commission on the Status of Women, Target Gallery Washington DC, ARC Gallery, Chicago.

        “Art on Paper,” Circle Gallery, Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, MD

2015     “New York Project,” The NY Boyer Foundation, NY Public Library, New York, NY

            “DRAWING,” KunstRaum Ko (Gallery), Berlin, Germany

2014     “Los Angeles Art Show,” Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA

            “Wish You Were Here,” AIR Gallery, New York

            International Painting Annual 4, an exhibition in print, Manifest Research Gallery,                                                   Cincinnati, OH

            “Correspondence,” Q Gallery, Franklin Art Center, Brainerd, MN

            “Fashion Dictates: Who Make and Breaks the Rules,” Drawing as backdrop for a panel discussion

                        with Ann Simonton at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA

            “Winter Exhibition,” The Montgomery, Adler and Co Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2013     18th Annual LA Art Show, LA Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA

            “Winter Show,” Adler and Co., San Francisco, CA

            New American Paintings, No. 106, Southern Issue, Open Studios Press, Boston, MA           

            “Air and Dreams,” Solo show, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “Contemporary and Modern Art Fair,” Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA

            “Currency,” Allen Priebe Gallery, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, WI

            “Memory,” Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, BC, Canada

            “Dream State,” Linus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2012     Adler & Co Gallery, San Francisco, CA

            “The Secret Exchange,” National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea.

            “Work,” Mayworks Exhibition, Nainaimo Art Gallery, Courtenay, BC, Canada.

            “49th Annual Exhibition,” Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, LA

            “Without Borders,” Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            The Jim and Janet Ayers’ Collection, First Bank, Nashville, TN

            “Surreal Visions,” Limner Gallery, Hudson, NY

2011-12 “Connections:  Marilyn Murphy & Bob Trotman, Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL

2011     “International Drawing Annual 6: an Exhibition in Print,” Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, OH

            “Drawing Connections,” Siena Art Institute, Siena, Italy       

            “The Secret Exchange,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia     

            “Los Angeles Art Show,” Fine Arts Dealers Association, L. A. Convention Center, LA, CA       

            “12th Annual Realism International Art Exhibition,” Upstream People Gallery, Omaha, NE

            “Art Chicago,” Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL (Carl Hammer & Cumberland Galleries)

            “Papier Invitational” Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            Hand Drawn Map Association, #309,   Philadelphia, PA

            “80 Square,” Tinney Contemporary and Middle TN State University, Nashville, TN

2010     “Ninth Annual National Exhibition, Ceres Gallery, New York, NY Juror: Lowery Sims

            “Food Show,” Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “30 Small Works,” Gallery Up, Gettys Art Center, Old Town, Rock Hill, SC

            “Art Chicago,” Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL

            “Airmail 100,” 100th Anniversary of Air Mail, Modesto Art Museum, Modesto, CA

            “Mechanics of the Imagination,” Prescott College Art Gallery, Prescott, AZ

2009     “Primal: Drawing as Mirror of Self,” Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

            Invitational group show, Sue Scott Gallery, New York, NY

            “In Your Dreams,” Pen & Brush Gallery, New York, NY

            “Accessing the Artist’s Brain: Drawing as Metaphor,” Association of Visual Arts, Chattanooga, TN

            “From Washington to Warhol: Americana Redefined,” Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN

            “The Road Not Taken: 30th Anniversary Exhibition,” Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

2008     “Wind Mischief,” Solo Show, Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

            “Slippery Ideas,” Solo Show, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “5x5,” Target Gallery, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, VA

2007     “Red Clay Survey Alumni Reunion:  From the Collection,” Huntsville Museum of Art, AL

            “Firescape,” Northcutt Steele Gallery, Montana State University, Billings, MT

            “Coffee,” Future Studio Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.

            “And Now A Word from Our Sponsors:  Acquired Taste, Recent Art Acquisitions at the                                                Tennessee State Museum (2006-2007)”, Nashville.

            “Music City Picks: Choices from Cheekwood’s Collection,” Cheekwood Museum of Art,                                               Nashville, TN

            “Male Art Show,” Regis Center for Art, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

2006     “All About Women,” Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

            “Strange Figurations,” Limner Gallery, Hudson, NY.

2005     “Work of Art, Art of Work,” Fine Arts Building Gallery, Chicago, IL

2005     “Hindsight: Inspired by the Past,” Afif Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2004      “Suspended Animation,” Mid-Career Survey, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN

            “Georgetown International Exhibition,” Fraser Gallery, Washington, D. C.      

            Solo show Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN, 1999, 1997, 1994, 1991, 1988, 1985, 1983.

            “The Contemporary Art Fair,” Pier 92, New York, New York

            “31st Annual Exhibition,” Masur Art Museum, Twin City Art Foundation, Monroe, Louisiana.

2003     “National Drawing Exhibition,” Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

            “Art on Paper,” Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, Maryland.

            “Works on Paper,” Long Beach Arts, Long Beach, CA, Award.

            “Views of the Collection:  Recent Acquisitions,” Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL

            “A Century of Progress: 20th Century Painting in TN,” Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA

2002     Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, 106th Annual Exhibition, New York, New York

2001     “What’s My Line?” The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN

            “A Catalog of Winds,” Artemisia Gallery, Chicago, Illinois. Solo show.

            “The Best of Tennessee, Millennium Collection,”  Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, TN

            International Exhibition, Puna Contemporary Art Center, Pahoa, Hawaii, Award, CD-rom.

            Two-person Exhibition, Swan Coach House Gallery, Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, Ga.

            “Firsts: the Personal & the Historical,” Bare Hands Gallery/Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham

            National Endowment for the Arts, Washington D. C. (since 1998)

2000     “A Catalog of Winds,” Solo Show, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

            “Figurative Works 2000,” Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach, Florida.

            Holter Museum of Art, Helena, Montana.

1999     “Figuratively Speaking,” Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, NC.

1998     Solo Show, University of North Carolina at Asheville, NC.

            Alexandria Museum of Art, Alexandria, Louisiana.

1997     The Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach, Florida.

1996     The National Academy of Design, New York, New York.No index entries found.

            Seattle Artfair, Seattle, Washington.

            The Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

            Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, Indiana.

1995     “Americas 2000,” Northwest Art Center, Minot State University, North Dakota.

            New Regional Printmaking Invitational, Sarah Moody Gallery, University of AL, Tuscaloosa

            “Dark Humor,” Plan B Gallery, Memphis, Tennessee.

1994     San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, California.

            University of Alabama, Solo Show, Huntsville, Alabama.

1993     Amos Eno Gallery, New York, New York.

1993     “Drawing into the 90’s,” Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin, Texas,  Juror: Neal Benezra,                                                          Chief Curator for the Hirshhorn Museum, Award.

            “From the Mountains to the Mississippi,” Cheekwood Fine Arts Center, Nashville, TN.

1992     “Realism Today,” Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, Indiana.

            Brooks Biennial Invitational Exhibition, Brooks Museum, Memphis Tennessee.

            “From Dixie to Down Under,” Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, Qld, Australia.

SELECTED COLLECTIONS:                                                     

Boston Museum School, The Bridgestone Collection,    Modesto Art Museum,  Siena Art Institute Siena, Italy

Tennessee State Museum,              Huntsville Museum of Art,   SUNY, Potsdam,        Oklahoma Museum of Art

Imagery Collection at Benziger Estate Winery,     Cheekwood Museum of Art   OK State Collection

Morris Museum, Augusta, GA   Shepard Fairey, LA, CA,    Beth Rudin DeWoody, NY,    Judy Chicago, NM,    

Nashville International Airport   The University of Wisconsin at Parkside, Bristol Myers,   First Bank, TN     

Prudential Collection, Chicago, IL   Graphic Chemical & Ink Co., Villa Park, IL            Northern Telecom,

Hospital Corporation of America   Metro Arts Commission, Nashville, TN   The Standard Club, Nashville, TN

The Jim and Janet Ayers Collection, First Bank, TN  Fritz Scholder Collection, Scottsdale, AZ

Metro Courthouse, Nashville, TN 



Master of Fine Arts, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma.



Professor Emerita of Art, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. (Professor from 1980-2017)

Cartographer, The Drawing Room and John A. Taylor, Oklahoma City, OK 1974-77