Lisa M. Murphy
Across the Earth as people travel to and from homes to work, to dream, or to play, the clouds in the sky travel too– fleeting and ever-present. To me, the interaction between the imaginations of visual art’s creators and viewers and their shared experience of its materiality is universal like the clouds. In that place the very human desire to feel comfort and security co-exists with an equally instinctual hope for uncertainty and novelty. We create shelters to protect family units and monuments to protect cultural identity and both are decorated with ornament and design conducive to stylized conventions wherever a culture resides, geographically or even chronologically. When we participate in reinforcing these standards, perhaps we are revealing how our want to speak to the intangible manifests itself through the creation of the material. And once we see what we have made and built, it somehow confirms that we too will live forever.
As this finite life has progressed, my mental illnesses of depression and anxiety have often interfered with what is most important to me: loving relationships with my friends and family, educational and occupational goals, and the joy I derive from making and showing my art. I’ve discovered, however, that for me living a happy life is very much like making a successful piece of art, whether a sculpture, painting, or mandala. Many mistakes and obstacles will occur, discarded rough sketches or overworked canvases, in order to arrive at a place of peace and serenity. I believe overcoming my struggles, fears, and those moments of complete despair have made me a stronger and better person, just as those imperfect pieces of art have hopefully made me a better artist.
My hope in a viewer’s reaction to my art is joy and wonder. The Italian word meraviglia is maybe a good term to use. It’s very important to me that as many different kinds of people as possible are able to enjoy it: whether they are familiar with fine arts or not, whether they suffer from mental illnesses or not, rich or poor, and of any color or gender. An instance of enjoying a piece of art can serve as a refuge, only if temporarily, from the struggles and burdens we all carry. And perhaps through that we all may experience the universal wonder of infinity.