Michelle Murphy

Spread Out, Tuck and Roll – video (still) documentation of site specific endurance performances at White Sands National Monument & Missile Range, 2019 

Michelle Murphy is a visual and performance artist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Chicago, Illinois. Murphy is currently Visiting Assistant Professor in Photography at the University of New Mexico, and Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Murphy’s humorous and tragic performances for camera, echo pressures reinforced by Capitalism to perform in IRL, and online. Murphy’s studio-based work in photography and video includes experiments with artificial lighting, optical and edited effects, and time-based stunts. Murphy contrast’s their technical “chops” in photography with experimental and deskilling methods to foster critical dialogue between what is idealized about subject/place and what is omitted through advertising and popularized histories. After research and multiple site visits to locations (currently at White Sands National Monument and Missile Range in New Mexico), Murphy performs physically demanding durational work (e.g. rolling with tumbleweeds on the gypsum dunes for hours in full desert sun) for an incidental public: a family of tourists, a military employee, a park ranger. While performing with visible camera equipment, Murphy mirrors how their life in 2019 is halfway between real experience and self-broadcasted internet feeds. These site-specific performances are often co-occupied by temporary visitors staging their own selfies. When Murphy’s final work resides in archival formats and shared online, they playfully use writing to revision canonical histories via searchable tags, citation, and PR “speak”.  

Murphy earned a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a New Artist’s Society Fellow (2017) and a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Murphy has participated in several artist’s residencies including: Mana Contemporary Miami, SITELAB at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Elsewhere (Greensboro, NC). Murphy’s work has been exhibited and or performed in NYC, Paris, Geneva Switzerland, Guatemala City, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Cleveland, Oberlin, Akron, and Detroit. Murphy co-curates the international art and culture publication MAKE8ELIEVE with Cetusss (Swiss Artist + Designer). From 2013-2015 Murphy was the Director and Founder of the Artist’s Residency Program and Gallery, Micro Art Space, in Cleveland, Ohio which provided solo exhibitions, support, documentation, and mentorship for Artists that culminated with their solo exhibitions and public receptions monthly. Murphy has lectured at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), University of Chicago, University of New Mexico, Ithaca College, University of Utah, Loyola University, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland State University, and Cuyahoga Community College.

Murphy’s work draws from first-hand experience within the American Space Program. As a full-time photographer for NASA from 2004 to 2015, they accumulated an appreciation of NASA’s methodology and an awareness of the gaps within the space administration’s social history. Murphy’s current work revises exclusionary aspects of science and exploration and their research orbits around those omitted from popularized narratives.