Lauri Lynnxe Murphy is well known here, having established her name as both an artist and an art advocate over the past two decades. But she fell off the radar for a few years when she moved to Columbus to earn her MFA at Ohio State University, where world-renowned installation artist Ann Hamilton was among her mentors.
Sometimes, when a mature artist returns to school, there can be disastrous results due to over-thinking. But if the elegant Nest/Shed at Mai Wyn Fine Art is any indication, that's not a problem for Murphy. Her time in grad school served her well, especially her association with Hamilton, whose presence in Murphy's work, though subtle, is keenly felt.
Nest/Shed would seem to refer to shelter, and though the "nest" part does, "shed" refers to the act of shedding, as a snake sheds its skin. Underlining this point, bits of snake skin have been used in collages such as the untitled one from the "Nest/Shed" series (pictured). For this piece, Murphy has arranged a scrap of wallpaper, some pieces of a wasp nest and some strips of snake skin painted chartreuse. These collages have a neo-modernist character; some even riff on mid-century modernism.
Lauri Lynxxe Murphy
That wasp nest is also used in a quartet of largish works on paper, and though their compositions are more unified than those in the smaller collages, they, too, conjure references to classic modernism. The juxtaposition of the dark, mottled nest fragments with the white paper really works. This visual give-and-take of dark against light is made more complex in the piece that incorporates brightly hued commercial paint chips, as well as in the one that has bits of copper on it.
There's a whiff of Hamilton in all of these, but the installation that anchors the whole show, "What Remains," is downright Hamiltonian. Murphy acquired the waste left over after a bolt of industrial felt had been used to create hundreds of felt circles. Though pierced by the cut-out circles, the bolt holds together as a sheet. "What Remains" comprises two elements: a floor piece made up of spirals of the felt, the color of which links up to the wasp-nest pieces; and a suspended element directly above, with the felt fragments hanging down from willow branches.
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Murphy's Nest/Shed is a strong comeback show. One proviso: It's set to close a day earlier than planned (April 25), so that a special exhibit dedicated to the late Doug Trujillo can be mounted. The Trujillo show will open to the public on Sunday, April 27, from noon to 4 p.m. Both are at Mai Wyn Fine Art, 744 Santa Fe Drive. For additional information, call 720-252-0500 or go to maiwyn.com.