Marilyn murphy

Marilyn Murphy is an artist and Professor Emerita of Art at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.  Her oil paintings and drawings create curious situations implying a larger story that often explore dualities both formally and conceptually (safety and danger, peace and turmoil, fire and water).  Her work has been shown in over three Hundred and twenty exhibitions nationally and abroad. She has had solo exhibitions at the Frist Art Museum, the Huntsville Museum of Art, and the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta.



My drawings and paintings are very much a product of where I am from and where my home is now. Because I grew up on the Great Plains in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I often include the action of the wind, clouds and strong sunlight in my work. When I moved to Nashville for the position as professor of Art at Vanderbilt in the August of 1980, I found the flea market a great resource for magazine from the 1940’s and 1950’s including Popular Science, Life, old cookbooks and found photographs. Used bookstores stoked my imagination as well as visits to photo archives around the country, factories and special locations including the National Severe Storms Laboratory. Elements within these found photos continue to inspire my ideas. I am drawn to mid-century images because it was an era of optimism in our country. The people or objects in my work are often taken out of context or their normal scale to create the impression of a narrative much like a movie still gives the view a snapshot of the story line. Viewers come to my work with different experiences so he or she is likely to have their own interpretation.

Subtle humor is often an important element in my work as well. Occasionally, the elements are beyond reach or out of human scale to create a scenario where the situation can be read as either symbolic or actual. The identity of the characters in my pieces are always less important than their actions.

-Marilyn Murphy, 2018

“There is a particular logic inherent in Murphy’s conjunction, one based on visual punning and the slightly too bright, almost halated quality of her tonalities. If this is dreaming, it is lucid dreaming, a knowing exploitation of the dream state by Murphy to provide her and us, with images and sensations of improbable freedom and thrilling or hilarious juxtaposition.”

-Peter Frank, Curator/Art Critic, Los Angeles


Selected Awards and Grants

2017 Research Grant, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

2011    Research Grant, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

2004   Chancellor’s Award for Research, Vanderbilt University.

            Award for Outstanding Artwork, Tulane Review of Art and Literature, Tulane Univ, New Orleans, LA

            Research Scholar Grant, Toward Mid Career Survey, Vanderbilt University

2003   Research Scholar Grant, Toward Catalog Publication, Vanderbilt University

            Distinguished Faculty Award, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

2001    Honorable Mention, Puna Art Contemporary Art Center, Pahoa, Hawaii.

2000   University Research Council Grant, Vanderbilt University.

1996    National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship Archive, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.

            Tri Kappa Award, Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, Indiana, Juror: Nancy Hoffman.

1995    Merit Award, Water Tower Annual, Louisville Visual Art Association, Louisville, Kentucky.

            Top Purchase Award, National Painting Competition, Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN Jurors: Robert Ryman, Painter/Inge-Lise Eckmann, San Francisco MoMA

            2 Purchase Awards, Parkside National Print Exhibition, University of WI, Kenosha, WI. Juror:  Terry Allen, Artist.

            Venture Fund Grant, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

1991    First Place in 2-Dimensional category, “Patchwork of Many Lives,” Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL, Juror: Connie Butler, Curator, Artists Space, New     York.

            Purchase Award, Evansville Museum of Arts And Science, Evansville, IN

1990    Fellowship, Southern Arts Federation

1988    Fellowship, TN Arts Commission, Juror: Lowery Sims, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY


Selected Exhibitions

(Work in over three hundred and twenty exhibitions since 1980 and curated over 35 exhibitions.)

2019 (upcoming) Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA Solo show

2018 “Atmospheric Perspective”, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN Solo show

“Marilyn Murphy/Barry Buxkamper”, 21C Museum Hotel, Nashville, TN

“Some Familiar Faces”, Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

“Wish You Were Here”, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2017    "New Arrivals", Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            "Marilyn Murphy: Magic Realist", Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, TN

            “Mind the Gap: Works in Black & White”, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “Marilyn Murphy: Realism Subverted”, Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville, TN

2016    “Local Fare”, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “Storytellers”, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “Artists Select 2016”, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

             Women’s Caucus for Art Exhibition, Arc Project Gallery, San Francisco, CA

            “Women’s History Month Exhibition,” Florissant Valley College, St. Louis, MO

            Adler & Co Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2015    “Black and White Invitational,” Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, NC

            “Women Do It!” Women’s Caucus for Art traveling exhibition including the College Art Association, NY, UN Commission on the Status of Women, Target Gallery Washington DC,   ARC Gallery, Chicago.

            “Art on Paper,” Circle Gallery, Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, MD

            “New York Project,” The NY Boyer Foundation, NY Public Library, New York, NY

            “DRAWING,” KunstRaum Ko (Gallery), Berlin, Germany

2014    “Los Angeles Art Show,” Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA

            “Wish You Were Here,” AIR Gallery, New York

            International Painting Annual 4, an exhibition in print, Manifest Research Gallery, Cincinnati, OH

            “Correspondence,” Q Gallery, Franklin Art Center, Brainerd, MN

            “Fashion Dictates: Who Make and Breaks the Rules,” Drawing as backdrop for a panel discussion with Ann Simonton at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA

            “Winter Exhibition,” The Montgomery, Adler and Co Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2013    18th Annual LA Art Show, LA Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA

            “Winter Show,” Adler and Co., San Francisco, CA

            New American Paintings, No. 106, Southern Issue, Open Studios Press, Boston,      MA     

            “Air and Dreams,” Solo show, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “Contemporary and Modern Art Fair,” Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA

            “Currency,” Allen Priebe Gallery, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, WI

            “Memory,” Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, BC, Canada

            “Dream State,” Linus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2012    Adler & Co Gallery, San Francisco, CA

            “The Secret Exchange,” National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea.

            “Work,” Mayworks Exhibition, Nainaimo Art Gallery, Courtenay, BC, Canada.

            “49th Annual Exhibition,” Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, LA

            “Without Borders,” Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            The Jim and Janet Ayers’ Collection, First Bank, Nashville, TN

            “Surreal Visions,” Limner Gallery, Hudson, NY

2011-12   “Connections:  Marilyn Murphy & Bob Trotman, Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL

2011    “International Drawing Annual 6: an Exhibition in Print,” Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, OH

            “Drawing Connections,” Siena Art Institute, Siena, Italy      

            “The Secret Exchange,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia 

            “Los Angeles Art Show,” Fine Arts Dealers Association, L. A. Convention Center, LA, CA

            “12th Annual Realism International Art Exhibition,” Upstream People Gallery, Omaha, NE

            “Art Chicago,” Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL (Carl Hammer & Cumberland Galleries)

            “Papier Invitational” Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            Hand Drawn Map Association, #309,   Philadelphia, PA

            “80 Square,” Tinney Contemporary and Middle TN State University, Nashville, TN

2010    “Ninth Annual National Exhibition, Ceres Gallery, New York, NY Juror: Lowery Sims

            “Food Show,” Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “30 Small Works,” Gallery Up, Gettys Art Center, Old Town, Rock Hill, SC

            “Art Chicago,” Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL

            “Airmail 100,” 100th Anniversary of Air Mail, Modesto Art Museum, Modesto, CA

            “Mechanics of the Imagination,” Prescott College Art Gallery, Prescott, AZ

2009    “Primal: Drawing as Mirror of Self,” Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

             Invitational group show, Sue Scott Gallery, New York, NY

            “In Your Dreams,” Pen & Brush Gallery, New York, NY

            “Accessing the Artist’s Brain: Drawing as Metaphor,” Association of Visual Arts, Chattanooga, TN

            “From Washington to Warhol: Americana Redefined,” Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN

            “The Road Not Taken: 30th Anniversary Exhibition,” Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

2008    “Wind Mischief,” Solo Show, Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

            “Slippery Ideas,” Solo Show, Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

            “5x5,” Target Gallery, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, VA

2007    “Red Clay Survey Alumni Reunion:  From the Collection,” Huntsville Museum of Art, AL

            “Firescape,” Northcutt Steele Gallery, Montana State University, Billings, MT

            “Coffee,” Future Studio Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.

            “And Now A Word from Our Sponsors:  Acquired Taste, Recent Art Acquisitions at the Tennessee State Museum (2006-2007)”, Nashville.

            “Music City Picks: Choices from Cheekwood’s Collection,” Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN

            “Male Art Show,” Regis Center for Art, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

2006    “All About Women,” Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL

            “Strange Figurations,” Limner Gallery, Hudson, NY.

2005    “Work of Art, Art of Work,” Fine Arts Building Gallery, Chicago, IL

            “Hindsight: Inspired by the Past,” Afif Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2004      “Suspended Animation,” Mid-Career Survey, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN

            “Georgetown International Exhibition,” Fraser Gallery, Washington, D. C. 

            Solo show Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN, 1999, 1997, 1994, 1991, 1988, 1985, 1983.

            “The Contemporary Art Fair,” Pier 92, New York, New York

            “31st Annual Exhibition,” Masur Art Museum, Twin City Art Foundation, Monroe, Louisiana.

2003    “National Drawing Exhibition,” Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

            “Art on Paper,” Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, Maryland.

            “Works on Paper,” Long Beach Arts, Long Beach, CA, Award.

            “Views of the Collection:  Recent Acquisitions,” Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL

            “A Century of Progress: 20th Century Painting in TN,” Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA

2002    Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, 106th Annual Exhibition, New York, New York

            “What’s My Line?” The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN

2001    “A Catalog of Winds,” Artemisia Gallery, Chicago, Illinois. Solo show.

            “The Best of Tennessee, Millennium Collection,”  Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, TN

            International Exhibition, Puna Contemporary Art Center, Pahoa, Hawaii, Award, CD-rom.

            Two-person Exhibition, Swan Coach House Gallery, Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, Ga.

            “Firsts: the Personal & the Historical,” Bare Hands Gallery/Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham

            National Endowment for the Arts, Washington D. C. (since 1998)

2000    “A Catalog of Winds,” Solo Show, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

            “Figurative Works 2000,” Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach, Florida.

            Holter Museum of Art, Helena, Montana.

1999    “Figuratively Speaking,” Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville, NC.

1998    Solo Show, University of North Carolina at Asheville, NC.

            Alexandria Museum of Art, Alexandria, Louisiana.

1997    The Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach, Florida.

1996    The National Academy of Design, New York, New York. No index entries found.

            Seattle Artfair, Seattle, Washington.

            The Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

            Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, Indiana.

1995    “Americas 2000,” Northwest Art Center, Minot State University, North Dakota.

            New Regional Printmaking Invitational, Sarah Moody Gallery, University of AL, Tuscaloosa

            “Dark Humor,” Plan B Gallery, Memphis, Tennessee.

1994    San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, California.

            University of Alabama, Solo Show, Huntsville, Alabama.

1993    Amos Eno Gallery, New York, New York.

1993    “Drawing into the 90’s,” Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin, Texas,  Juror: Neal    Benezra, Chief Curator for the Hirshhorn Museum, Award.

            “From the Mountains to the Mississippi,” Cheekwood Fine Arts Center, Nashville, TN.

1992    “Realism Today,” Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, Indiana.

            Brooks Biennial Invitational Exhibition, Brooks Museum, Memphis Tennessee.

            “From Dixie to Down Under,” Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, Qld, Australia.


Selected Collections

Metro Arts Nashville

Boston Museum School

The Bridgestone Collection

Modesto Art Museum

Siena Art Institute Siena, Italy

Tennessee State Museum

Huntsville Museum of Art

SUNY Potsdam

Oklahoma Museum of Art

Imagery Collection at Benziger Estate Winery

Cheekwood Museum of Art

OK State Collection

Shepard Fairey, LA, CA

Beth Rudin DeWoody, NY,

Judy Chicago, NM

Nashville International Airport

The University of Wisconsin at Parkside, Bristol Myers

First Bank, TN     

Prudential Collection, Chicago, IL

Graphic Chemical & Ink Co., Villa Park, IL    

Northern Telecom     

Hospital Corporation of America

The Jim and Janet Ayers Collection

First Bank, TN



Master of Fine Arts, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma.



Professor Emerita of Art, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. 


Selected Guest Artist Lectures

Morris Museum, Augusta, GA 2017

Moreman Moloney Contemporary, Louisville, KY 2017

Customs House Museum, Clarksville, TN 2017

College of Fine Arts, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 2006, 2017

Huntsville Museum of Art, 2001, 2007 and 2011.

Whitecliffe College of Art and Design, Auckland, New Zealand, 2009, 2010

Meridian Museum of Art, (as Curator), 37th Annual Bi-State Art Competition, Meridian, MS 2010

Fisk University, Nashville, TN, 2005.

National Art School, Sydney, Australia, 2004.

Artemisia Gallery, Chicago, IL, 2001.

James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, 2001, 1998, 97, 95, Drawing Seminar in Brisbane, 1994

University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, 2000.

University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, 2000.

University of North Carolina, Asheville, NC, 1998.

James Cook University of North Queensland-Cairns Campus, Cairns, Australia, 1996.

Far North Queensland, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander College of Art, Cairns, Australia, 1996.

Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, 1996.

Elam School of Art, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 1995.

The University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, 1994. 

University of Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama 1993.

Seven Hills College of Art, Brisbane, Australia, 1993.

Queensland College of Art, Brisbane, Australia. 1992.

The University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, 1992.

Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, 1991.


Selected Citations

2017-18 Four artworks used on the Nashville television production (in Jesse’s house).

2017 Realism Subverted: Marilyn Murphy, Peter Frank essay, Exhibition catalogue. “Murphy’s Law: Realism Subverted and Short Stories” Nashville Arts Magazine, Article by John Pitcher.

2016    101 Contemporary Artists, ArtVoices, Catalogue, Terrence Sanders.

2015    “The Dust Devil is in the Details,” review, ArtVoices Magazine, Spring, Peter Frank

2014    Who’s Who in American Art, since 1989

2014    Calyx Journal of Art and Literature, Volume 28, Issue 1, Corvallis, OR

            Hi-Fructose Magazine of Contemporary Art, November, 2014

2012    Connections: Murphy/Trotman, catalog, Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL

            Direct Art 19, Fall, “Marilyn Murphy + Bob Trotman,” Review, Art Papers, Dorothy M. Joiner, May/June 2012

2011     Alimentum:  The Literature of Food, Issue 11, Summer, cover.       

           Who’s Who in American Women, 28th Edition

            Alimentum, Literary Journal, Issue 9, NY, Cover of Summer

            “Art Gallery:  Marilyn Murphy,” on line exhibition, Alimentum: The Literature of Food

2009    Alimentum, Literary Journal, NY, Cover of Winter, 2009/2010

2007     The Individual Artist Fellowship Catalogue, Tennessee Arts Commission,

            “The Getaway,” The Oxford American, 2007 Music Issue, full page image of artwork.

2006    New American Painting, Southern Edition, Vol. 64, Open Studios Press, Boston, MA

2005    Art Papers, review and image, Julie Roberts, Jan/Feb.hy

2004    Suspended Animation:  the Work of Marilyn Murphy, Lucy Lippard & Mark Scala, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, catalog.

            Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who of American Women, Marquis.

2003    The N. E. A. Tapes, Documentary Film, Directed by Paul Lamarre & Melissa Wolf,  NY, Interview (Premier-Capitol Building, Washington, D. C., September 1999).

            Real Illusions, Exhibition Catalog, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN.

2000    Zhuang Shi, Arts magazine, The People’s Republic of China, illustrated article on my work.

            The Distillery:  Artistic Spirits of the South, Literary Journal, Motlow State College.

1997    Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Marquis, 25th Edition, 1995.

            The Democratic Print, CD-ROM Catalog, University Art Galleries, Wright State U,Dayton, OH

1996    “Honing the Cutting Edge of Conservative Styles, “ Holland Cotter, New York Times, 7/26/96.

1996    International Who’s Who of Intellectuals, 12th Ed. Melrose Press, Ltd, Cambridgeshire, England “Cheekwood National Painting Competition,” review by Susan Knowles, Number:  An Independent Quarterly of the Visual Arts, Memphis, TN, Winter, 1996.

1994    Calyx:  A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Winter 1994, Vol. 15, No.3, Portfolio.