Yellow Flowers

Margaret Murphy

oil on paper W: 22" H: 30"

Artwork Link


Artist Statement:

Norman Bryson, in his book “Looking at the Overlooked” argues that still life painting is “at a level of existence where events are not at all large-scale, momentous events of History, but the small-scale, forgettable acts of bodily survival and self-maintenance”. It is with this thought in mind that I painted flowers, in part as a form of self-maintenance; then, as impeachment trials lead to a global pandemic and racial justice protests, the paintings grew to respond to the events of history unfolding.

My oil on paper flower paintings are based on familiar and shared cultural artifacts. Vowing to paint one a week during the impeachment trial I frequented Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores to purchase flowers and I collected vases at second hand stores, Ikea, and West Elm. These artifacts are steeped in cultural ideas of luxury, class and domesticity through their commercial accessibility and price point; some are mass produced and inexpensive while others are unique or “designer”. While painting these I realized that I tapped into a collective desire for some form of comfort in troubled times, while also challenging the historic bias against flower paintings/still life as a less serious art form, especially for artists who identify as female.

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