Eastern Oregon University > Academics > Water, human connection arise in art professor’s work

Water, human connection arise in art professor’s work

Water, agency, human connection arise in art professor’s work

“If water had its way” by Susan Murrell

May 7, 2021 LA GRANDE, Ore. – After a recent solo exhibition in North Portland, Eastern Oregon University art professor Susan Murrell presents her installation “If water had its way” during her colloquium on May 13 at 4 p.m. via Zoom

The idea for the mixed-media composite painting, or one painting made of many pieces, came to Murrell during her sabbatical in 2017. She was inspired by the makeup of the water surrounding her in areas like Scandinavia and Alaska. After conducting some research about water from perspectives of physicists and outside texts, Murrell decided the painting stood for more than water itself. One paragraph from a book by Anthony Doer really impacted Murrell.  

“This paragraph really got me thinking about this beautiful notion that water would have a sense of agency. Like water would have a desire to do a particular thing. I [also] liked how it parallels if it does have everything that it wanted and everything was worn down…it just made me think of human beings,” Murrell said. “It just became a metaphor for our desires, like our desire for peace, for finding common ground with one another and especially in this time that has felt so politically divisive.”

In addition to her painting reflecting the parallelism between humans and water, Murrell turned to research to gain more knowledge about her subject area and looked to professional writers and physicists to gain a better understanding. In many of her art courses, Murrell encourages students to merge scholarly research and artistic interpretation. 

“I like to leave room for audiences to actually exist in the work and bring to it their own concepts and emotions,” Murrell said. “But for this colloquium, I want to focus on how that kind of research, how those kinds of experiences seep into the creative process in the studio and change things.”

Tune into Susan Murrell’s colloquium at 4 p.m. May 13 via Zoom

Learn more about EOU Colloquium at eou.edu/colloquium

By PR Intern Emily Andrews