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It’s not all ‘Bloom and Doom’ for New London’s Kat Murphy

AMY J. BARRY, Special to the Day

Publication: The Day

Published April 16. 2013 4:00AM   Updated April 16. 2013 1:39PM

As every new mother can understand, artist Kat Murphy of New London hasn't had the space and time to create a cohesive body of work since the birth of her daughter Greta Maeve three years ago.

But Greta is growing older, Murphy is getting back to the canvas, and she is finding that her art is changing in new and unexpected ways, the results of which will be featured in the Alexey von Schlippe (AvS) Gallery of Art's Spring Exhibition.

"Many things have changed and blossomed in my life, so this is a true rebirth," says Murphy.

One of the founding members of Hygienic Arts - where she was programming director and curator - i n addition to her fine art, Murphy is also a decorative artist, illustrator and muralist. She was a recipient of the Artist in Residency program in Bulgaria in 2006 and completed a certificate in print design from Rhode Island School of Design in 2009. She was a draftsman on the Sol Lewitt "Wall drawing #1196" at the New Britain Museum of Fine Art and has been involved in youth art programs at Lyman Allyn Art Museum, Hygienic and local schools.

Murphy explains that the word "bloom" became a departure point for this new body of work, which she began developing in her studio at the former Golden Street Gallery.

"I was trying to create work where I didn't have an end result in mind," Murphy says, "but rather allow texture, color, shape and structure to emerge organically."

Murphy notes that April is her birthday month and that spring inspires its own burst of energy and growth, and so she knew her paintings would have a floral theme.

The first one, titled "Bloom and Doom," was inspired by dandelions and how they change and how her 3-year-old likes to stomp on them.

"It's not an awful doom," Murphy notes.

Although, not knowing what the outcome would be, and how she was going to create this whole new series of paintings in time for the AvS show, did make her feel like she was doomed, Murphy admits.

"But the reward of not knowing what will happen after struggling with it was (realizing), 'Oh, my gosh, I can do this!'"

"I have seen the progression of Kat Murphy's work over the past decade," comments Julia Pavone, AvS gallery director. "Always infused with color and a joyful feeling, Kat's new body of work has clearly become more sophisticated and has even greater depth. Her work is still colorful but a new level of excitement has emerged in these bold, mixed-media pieces."

Murphy is known for her works in encaustic-an ancient technique combining melted beeswax with colored pigments The reason Murphy says she loves working in this medium is, "It's like cake. It has a great, velvety texture to it. It makes things scrumptious."

In this multimedia series, Murphy has added cut-up pieces of fabric, canvas, cardboard, silver and gold leaf.

"There's a lot more going on," Murphy says. "I mold all these techniques together - I love so many different techniques - and make them work together."

Murphy sees everything she does - illustration, design, painting - as an opportunity to learn.

I get so excited looking at images in magazines, collected images-I love Pinterest (an online pinboard to collect and share images). I'm inspired by everything I see and find new ways to see more."

Motherhood has been yet another vehicle for expanding her artistic vision. "I think becoming a mom adds to things you find interesting," she says.

For example, while reading children's stories to Greta at bedtime, it's helped her solve color problems in her own work. "Children's books are so illustrative and thoughtful. I'll think, those two blues look really good together," Murphy explains.

"My daughter says, 'I'm growing bigger every day.' She's changing. I feel like I'm still growing, too," Murphy says. "Yeah, I can totally relate."

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IF YOU GO

What: Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art's Spring Exhibition

Where: AvS Gallery of Art, Branford House Mansion, UConn Avery Point Campus, Groton

When: Exhibition opens April 19 with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. featuring live music by the Bill Morrison & Kent Hewett Jazz Duo. The show is on view through June 2.

Info: Call (860) 405-9052 or visit www.averypointarts.uconn.edu. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Members and students are

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