Sara Murphy

My work tracks the slipperiness of locating myself in space, language, and images. I operate
within a loop: acting out an image, naming it, and reconciling it to the scale of my body. The
objects I build through this process bridge drawing and sculpture, line and edge, surface and substance. By exaggerating the friction between pictorial and physical space, I aim to disrupt habitual modes of perception and allow for unexpected moments of wit, paradox and absurdity.
Using processes of cutting, tracing, carving, leveling and laminating, I embed images directly
into built surfaces. It is not necessary to impose an image onto a surface: by employing these
techniques, it succinctly emerges. I begin by drawing- either repeating an iconic image, tracing my body in a pose, or describing an imagined space. Sources include Byzantine and early Renaissance painting, urban architecture observed in my daily life, and kneeling, splayed-leg or assertive standing postures. From among the many simplified line drawings derived from these, I select the most compelling to give physical forms.
For two dimensional pieces, I build images using cutting and assembling techniques that recall intarsia or tiling. For sculptures, I match a situation to an operatively related object, such
as a seated position to a chair. With a tendency towards economy, I then design a construction
method, combining the two in as few moves as possible. I prefer to use planar sheets of
material like plywood, drywall and paper because of the ease with which they translate from two dimensions to three dimensions through a simple shift in orientation. Freeing materials from their prescribed functional roles allows them to speak in unexpected voices. For instance, by vertically standing stacked drywall panels in the middle of the room, the focus is reoriented to the soft, ceramic-like quality of the drywall’s gypsum interior.
Through this process of posing, drawing and building, I aim to draw comparisons among
several fields of observation: how we situate our bodies as objects within architecture, how the
languages of posturing and gesturing orient figures in relation to one another, and how graphic symbols can relate to our physical space while occupying the virtual realm of icons. The pieces shown here all address this territory through the scale relationships they suggest. For instance, H.A.N.D.S. compares the dimensions of a lifesize hand to the factory standard four foot by eight foot panel by literally ‘scaling up’ the image, while at the same time projecting a cartoon-like presence that occupies an ambiguous sense of scale. Other pieces featuring cut- out panels traced from the contours of my body (Images 04, 05, 10, 11, and 12) compress the figure into the footprint of functional furniture, using their 1:1 scale relationship to take objectification of the body to an absurdly literal conclusion.
Shifting between registers of size and scale, naming and enacting, describing and building,
illuminates the gaps between theoretical models of knowledge and embodied discovery. With my work I seek to make concrete connections between verbal, tactile, visual, and spatial experiences, in order to break conditioned habits of interpretation and cultivate authentic perceptual attention.