Melissa Murray

“We breathe in, We breathe out” is Melissa Murray’s new series of works on paper, realized through two separate lines of inquiry; large paintings that represent consecutive moments in a timeline and a series of small works that capture singular moments throughout the day.

For Murray, the work is about making new spaces where there is no room, facing death while creating life, losing the self through transformation. They are about fear and the unknown.

 

“We breathe in, We breathe out” presents deeply personal, metaphorical environments that represent moments in Murray’s life. Domestic interiors and exteriors create an imagined space that anthropomorphizes its content. She produces narratives that are more self-portrait than still life. She models her work as a literary outline, presenting an overlying theme that gradually dissects into smaller moments, creating an environment of emotional effect. She cites Maggie Nelson’s essays and the poetry of Mary Oliver and Anne Sexton as deeply influential to her practice.

 

For Murray, the structure and surrounding land in this series of paintings stem from her small black cottage in the Catskill Mountains. “The house represents a living breathing entity in my life where I store emotionally charged objects; old memories are activated when I visit and upon leaving, their stories are paused in the interim.” Pulling narratives from this experience, the work, she says, expresses a gratitude for the richness time affords her. Murray sees her “black house” in connection with Charles Burchfield’s cabin, “a vessel of devotion for a crescent moon to shine on”.

 

Sally Mann’s adoration for her Farm parallels Murray’s sentiments for the land she has made home; “I watch my child grow and flourish here and consider the fragile, fleeting nature of time and the loss that will inevitably follow”. “We breathe in, We breathe out” portrays an homage to the symbolism of Vanitas, they are a collection of coded observations and a tribute to bonded relationships. 

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