Artist Spotlight: winner of the Annual National Juried Exhibition James Murphy

An artist can be a painter, a sculptor, maybe a poet, a photographer or a sketch artist. They come from around the country and across the globe. They depict a unique perspective on the world and portray varying messages.

James Murphy, a 36-year-old artist from Ireland is no different. Murphy was the first creator from outside the country to have his art be juried into the Annual National Juried Exhibition at Marshall University.

“It is an amazing privilege,” Murphy said. “I hadn’t known before the article came out, and I had been contacted, but I feel the university is a perfect setting to display my work.”

Growing up, Murphy said he did not dream of becoming a doctor or lawyer. He said his only aspiration was good health, which he lacked. But he never let his illness stop him.

“I find the things I’ve learned from being unwell offer me a lot of resilience and confidence,” Murphy said. “It’s only at this late age I hope to dream and maybe grow up too.”

He said he began painting as a sort of therapy for his lifelong illness. What started as a therapeutic hobby, became a dream.

“I have been an artist for about 10 years,” Murphy said. “Though I was mainly self-taught, it gave me the impetus to follow into a fine arts school.”

Murphy graduated from Crawford College of Fine Art and Design in 2015. After he graduated, he continued to work, and he displayed his work in any possible way while also attempting to expand his skills by trying something new.

“I’m developing my art practice by trying to bring the video medium into an installation setting,” Murphy said. “It becomes more of an engaged experience for the viewer.”

He was drawn to any medium that would allow him to convey his ideas. He said he was not concerned about what the piece would mean to him, not about the products used to create it.

“By nature, I’m non-sentimental but more drawn to authenticity,” Murphy said. “I am not drawn to the history of the medium but the honesty of its utilization, because my artwork will always mean a lot to me personally, but not the medium used to convey.”

Around 2016, some of his work was chosen for national awards. He entered in this exhibition for the opportunity to have his artwork displayed overseas.

“As I got older, I felt that there was an opportunity with the digital medium to submit my work in international competitions,” Murphy said. “Where traditional artists may have to ship physical pieces, my work could be viewed online alone.”

Murphy’s work was displayed in Nebraska last year. He said it was another deciding factor for him to submit his work in the Juried Exhibition at Marshall.

“Considering my goal to have my work gain as much exposure as possible and to a new audience, I felt the Juried Exhibition open call would be a great honor if I was lucky enough to be considered, let alone juried in,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he constantly thought of new ideas and had to use art to express them and calm his head.

“I’m a philosopher at heart,” Murphy said. “I am constantly looking for new, intriguing ways to translate my ideas.”

The artist said he has always drawn inspiration from his surroundings. In his piece for the exhibition titled “Everyday,” he said he tried to reduce the world into basic components.

“The inspiration for my work is one of perspective,” Murphy said. “In the video I attempt to reduce the world around to the simple, essential elements that I see every day and offer me mystery as the subtlety of movement.”

He said he wanted to portray the message of simplicity, the idea of slowing down to notice more.

“‘Everyday’ attempts to deconstruct and slow down the noise of everyday,” Murphy said. “It doesn’t ask you to question yourself or your values but rather brings you closer to the value of those fundamental elements of daily life that may offer the base to present your own message.”

“Everyday” has been displayed in the U.S., U.K, Ireland and Germany as well as South Korea. Murphy is working to make this piece into a short film.

“I am working on pre-production on my first narrative short film that I hope to begin shooting in the coming months,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he hopes to continue pursuing his passion, even without the large audience for his work. He said art hasn’t always been his dream, but it became just that, a dream he wanted to continue.

“When the attention offered to my work in recent times stops, I will still be compelled to calm my mind with my art practice,” Murphy said. “However, it will be personal and have an audience of one.”

Michaela Crittenden can be contacted at [email protected].