Ellie Murphy: 2016 Open Studio Fellow

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I have always wanted to make a semi-permanent outdoor sculpture with a very large hanging fiber element or fringe. So I designed a model based on this simple idea for the Franconia Sculpture Park 20th Anniversary Fellowship. In reference to Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel Little Women, I have chosen each color to represent one of the four March sisters, the “little women” of the book’s title. Meg the oldest is a redhead (orange cord), Jo the next is a tomboy represented by blue, Beth is an ombre mix of browns because she is a shy homebody, and Amy the youngest has vibrant yellow blond hair. These women, however, are so big that the viewer can enjoy walking through their hair-curtain-tentacle-fringe while the wind makes the fiber seem like waves, leaves or tall grass blowing. I invite park visitors to move through, touch and enjoy the sculpture (please style or detangle) but not to hang or climb on it.

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Little Women 

Polypropylene cord, steel, wood
17’ x 9’ x 24’

Describe your creative process-

EM: I explore the relationship of personal and cultural nostalgia in subject matter, material and method. My work straddles the line between childhood and adulthood while questioning the borders of fine art and traditional craft forms. Personal biography is an influence ­­ having a child and fixing up and moving into an abandoned house in Queens in New York City with my partner made me look at the everyday and ordinary that surrounded me from a different perspective. My art also combines references to doll hair, crafts, folk motifs and Americana from my 1970’s childhood in Kansas. I see interdependence between the multiplicities of cultures in our world and make sculpture as a way of recognizing and playing with the unintended and humorous connections between them.

Tell me about your project at FSP-

EM: I have always wanted to make a semi­-permanent outdoor sculpture with a very large hanging fiber element or fringe. So I designed my project based on this simple idea for the Franconia Sculpture Park 20th Anniversary Fellowship. In reference to Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel Little Women, I have chosen four colors of 6mm polypropylene braid to represent each of the March sisters, the “little women” of the book’s title. Meg the oldest is a redhead (orange cord), Jo the next is a tomboy represented by blue, Beth is an ombre mix of browns because she is a shy homebody, and Amy the youngest has vibrant yellow blond hair. These women, however, are so big that the viewer can enjoy walking through their hair­ curtain ­tentacle­ fringe while the  wind makes the fiber seem like waves, leaves or tall grass blowing. I invite park visitors to move through, touch and enjoy the sculpture (please style or detangle) but not to hang or climb on it.
roadrunner

In celebration of our 20th year anniversary, all of our selected Open Studio fellows this year were FSP alumni. Ellie was an FSP/Jerome Fellow in 2002 when she made Gene Paris with Ellipses.


Why did you propose this project for FSP?

EM: Initially, I was simply thinking about submitting a small piece for the Franconia 20th Anniversary Alumni Show. But while looking around my studio at a group of fringed drawings of yarn that I had been making, I realized that one of these would make an amazing sculpture if it were blown up to larger ­than ­life size.

How does your project relate to your previous work?

EM: I have made large fiber pieces and installations of yarn indoors, but I had never been able to create one outdoors. So Little Women is similar in many ways, but different in that it has a greater kinetic interaction with the wind, and that it is made of a new material, out door rated 6mm poly propylene braid, that I used here for the first time.

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What did the experience of working here offer you?

EM: So many things! But most importantly, the opportunity to work outdoors, to be in a new and neutral environment (no studio baggage and familiar faces), to experiment and learn new skills and techniques, to meet and work and collaborate with new artists, to interact with the public, communal living and nature!!!

How did your time at Franconia compare to other residencies?

EM: Honestly, I have not been on very many other residencies. I would say that FSP compares extremely favorably to the many artist opportunities I have participated in, but I can’t really speak to a lot of residencies specifically. That said, having had such a great time at Franconia, I’m decidedly going to explore other residency opportunities.

Where and with whom did you study?

EM: Washington University in St. Louis—Jim Sterritt, Ed Andrews, Ron Leax and Eric Nordgulen
Yale University School of Art—David von Schlegell, Alice Aycock, Ron Jones, Judy Fox
(with Chris Larson, Jennie Shanker, Glenn Schafer and Rico Gatson)
…many others

franconia-fellowsWhat did you learn at FSP? // What was your biggest challenge?

EM: Be flexible and patient, open­ minded but diligent to your original concept. I also learned to work on scaffolding which was a little scary but ok! Take risks to learn something new. Take advantage of the cool people who surround you. Wear sunscreen or a hat. Don’t only eat cereal. Take time to swim in the river. Kids make sculpture was pretty challenging! : ) but rewarding.

 

 

spotlightYou can experience Ellie Murphy’s Little Women any day of the year during daylight hours. Come style and/or detangle the fibrous hair of the March sisters as you walk through this sculpture! To read previous installments of the 2016 Franconia Fellows click the artist’s name you wish spotlight: Jess Hirsch, Ian Jones, David B. Smith, Lu Xu.
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One comment

  1. […] interview. Check out earlier 2016 Spotlight installments: Shanice Jackson,  Zoran Mojsilov, Ellie Murphy, Lu Xu, David Smith, Jess Hirsch, Ian Jones, and David B. Smith! We will be featuring all of our […]

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