Margaret Murphy was born in Baltimore, MD. She is a painter, curator, and professor.
Margaret earned her BS from Towson State University; and she earned her MFA in Painting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 1992.
Margaret’s work is in the collection of Deutsche Bank, Jersey City Museum, Hudson County Community College Foundation, Hunterdon Museum of Art, The Brodsky Center at Rutgers University, and numerous private collections. She now resides in Jersey City, NJ.
Margaret, I’m intrigued with the way you juggle your professional life. You are a visual artist with gallery representation; you curate and organize exhibitions. You also teach art on a collegiate level. I think you’re a great role model for a lot of artists who want to follow a diverse practice. So, I’m curious about some of the realities of that. For this profile, I want to concentrate on your experience as an artist. What do you do, and why?
I paint and make art because its how I process the observations and questions I have about life. I also enjoy the “craft” of art making. I like working with my hands. Painting has always been the medium of choice for me, creating illusions and being in the world of ideas feels right for what I speak about in my work.
Why? That has changed over the years. I was one of those kids who always got positive feedback about my drawings and paintings. I knew early on that I wanted to work in a creative field. As I matured I realized that my interests would best be expressed through painting.
You have a successful career: gallery representation, numerous awards, and critical recognition. What’s your secret?
“No secret, just hard work.”
Being a professional artist is a lot like being a small time business owner. How do you manage your career, and what skills do you need?
That is a good point. To be a successful artist it helps to have a good business sense. You have to be organized because you have to juggle many hats. I spend months painting then take a few months just to market the work (send out grant applications, apply for residencies, shows etc.) On top of that you have to make money so you teach, curate -whatever works best for you.
What’s your favorite part of being an artist?
“My favorite part is making the work. When you are in the studio and in a zone its great- the ideas flow, the process is exciting. I also enjoy always learning new things.”
What’s your least favorite part of being an artist?
Not being in control of your career. You are ready to work non stop but if the opportunities are not there that can be frustrating. Also the lean economic lifestyle can be difficult. An artist needs financial backing to work.
What three pieces of advice would you give to an artist just starting out their career?
“Hmm, first – make good work. I think younger artist can come out of school now with too much of a business sense and not enough willingness to experiment and take risks with their work.
Second, try and connect with likeminded people and take charge. Curate shows, start a blog, be part of an art collective… You need to take the reigns of your own career and not wait for other people to give you opportunities.
Third, be patient. Work hard. Help others.”
You hail from Baltimore—home of John Waters, Anne Tyler, and The Wire. What’s the deal with Baltimore, and why does it inspire such great art?
I love Baltimore! Its quirky, charming and has a real sense of its own culture. It’s about crabs, orioles (and now Ravens), Edgar Allen Poe, John Waters…its great. I think it’s the whole Mason Dixon Line thing. It’s a little bit southern and a little bit east coast, it’s a nice combination. It doesn’t take itself too serious either. It’s a safe place to find your voice as an artist.
If Baltimore and Jersey City were to get into a pillow fight, whose side would you fight on, and why?
“I am a Jersey City girl now. This is home. I think what I like about JC is that is has a little bit of Baltimore in it – just closer to NY!”
What’s next for you?
We’ll see. I am working on a new body of work at PS122 in Manhattan. I do have a solo show coming up at Pentimenti Gallery in May. Also, my work will be included in a catalogue of 100 Mid Atlantic artists that will be published by Schiffer Publishing.
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