From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]borderstan.com.
Lucinda Murphy explores profound scientific questions within the finite boundaries of her canvases. As an artist, she grapples with questions such as,”Where does energy originate and how does it convert to matter and back?” and “What is the difference between environment and entity?”
Most recently, she has been addressing a question more familiar within the artistic realm — the disparities between what an object actually is and how we perceive it. As Murphy explains, “An object must ‘look’ very different depending on what is ‘seeing’ it… Right now I am trying to visualize what it means that we can only find 10 percent of our universe.”
Murphy didn’t always have such a coherent vision and clear focus as an artist. In fact, she didn’t go to art school until she was 40. Before becoming a full-time artist, Murphy worked as a landscape architect for 20 years During the first 12 years of her career as an artist, she focused on traditional still life, landscape and other figurative depiction before realizing that “the unanswered questions about the evolution of our universe and us” interested her the most.
Murphy spent most of her life in DC. Her family has been in the city since her great-grandmother moved to Dupont Circle, and Murphy has lived within the neighborhood with her husband since 1976. She has a studio on Florida Avenue NW and also recently started working at a studio in Delaware, where the larger space allows her to work on eight- and nine-foot canvases.
Murphy works primary in paint in collage. She also works with different applications, like needle pens that let her “draw” with the paint and black roofing paper, which she uses as a background that mimics the blackness of most of matter in the universe. In her collage works, Murphy says, she can reveal the underlying importance of layers.
Aside from science, Murphy also draws inspiration from living and studying art abroad. She has lived in Geneva, Switzerland; Beirut, Lebanon; Guadalajara, Mexico; Olomuz, Czechoslovakia; and Xiamen, China. Each place left its on distinctive impression on her artistic style.
Despite her extensive travels, Murphy says that “living and studying in Washington has been the best gift of all.” She cites the easy access to rich resources like the Smithsonian museums and the Phillips Collection, and the local institutions such as the Corcoran College of Art and Design and American University as among the many advantages of being an artist in DC.