‘Transitional Spaces’ explores constancy, change

EOU professor presents sabbatical exhibition

EOU art professor Susan Murrell's 'if water has its way'

Painting detail, ‘if water has its way,’ 2017; watercolor and acrylic on polymer paper

Dec. 12, 2017 La Grande, Ore. — Eastern Oregon University’s Nightingale Gallery rings in a new year and hails the return of Associate Professor of Art Susan Murrell with the presentation of “Transitional Spaces.” The exhibit presents works created during Murrell’s 2016-17 academic year sabbatical.

The exhibition opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m., Jan. 12 in the gallery, and runs through Feb. 9. Murrell will also present a gallery talk at 4 p.m., Feb. 8.

Murrell’s work explores how the concept of landscape has changed through technology. The exhibition includes a project titled, “we are all cosmic dust” and other work created during her sabbatical year. This group of paintings was created as a meditation on passageways, life transitions and the constancy of matter. Murrell is fascinated by the fact that human bodies are comprised of recycled matter from the stars.

“We are reshuffled molecules,” Murrell said. “I am constantly surprised by the complexity of our planet and how human activities have impacted it over time.”

Throughout her year of research and travel Murrell’s creative practice focused on the universal and personal process of experiencing presence through absence — a struggle to know a thing from the hole it has left behind after it is gone.

The paintings in this exhibition were created through gravity and evaporation. Murrell works with water media on polymer paper, allowing pools of water and pigment to settle and form images over time. She is interested in painting as a method of creating an image that references other substances or realities, but also paint being (or becoming) a thing within itself.

Murrell exhibits her large-scale and site-specific installations, paintings and works on paper nationally, and has been awarded many residencies. During her sabbatical year she was a resident artist at several prestigious international programs including Arteles in Finland, Westfjords in Iceland, and Playa and Caldera in Oregon. In fall 2016, Murrell was also the artist-in-residence at Portland State University’s Studio MFA program, which resulted in a solo exhibition at the Autzen Gallery in Portland.

This project was made possible in part by Playa’s Mid-Career Oregon Artist award and Caldera’s Golden Spot Opportunity award, both funded by the Ford Family Foundation. Murrell has received multiple Golden Spot and Mid-Career Artist Awards through the Ford Family Foundation and in 2017 won an Oregon Arts Commission Career Opportunity Grant.

“EOU’s art program is pleased to welcome Susan back to campus,” Gallery Director and Department Chair Cory Peeke said. “Her work has consistently been an inspiration for our students and this exhibit will give them and the rest of our community a unique glimpse into her process and growth as an artist over the last year.”

The gallery, located in Loso Hall, is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.  For more information, visit eou.edu/art or follow the Nightingale Gallery on Facebook and Instagram.

To request images of artwork for publication or to schedule an interview with the artist please contact Gallery Director Cory Peeke at cpeeke@eou.edu.


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