"Loving the blue shade in this work. Along with the irises that I took a photo of in a community garden I was passing by on the way to therapy. Maybe she's looking at them too. Included is morse code emphasizing the title irises. MORSE CODE= IRISES I never thought that I would be so interested in a way of communicating in an oral, tactile and visual language. My Dad was in the Air Force a long time ago, and I got the ideas on morse code from just talking and being with him."
- Lisa Murphy
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“Artmaking pulls my emotions and expresses the transformation of depression and anxiety into a tangible workable being. My Blackness, my gayness, and my femaleness shape the lens in which I see the world. I desire to create images, colors, and outlines that express my feelings and excite my eyes. Colors win me over every day and give me a reason to continue to put ideas to canvas, paper, and board.”
Lisa’s abstract art represents her experiences and identity while promoting inclusion and equality. Born and raised in Boston, she grew up observing and adapting to her surroundings. In adulthood, art became a powerful tool to help her manage depression and anxiety. Lisa shares, “Patience is a necessary fact if you're a person of limited means and health.” Through practice and experimentation, Lisa patiently grew her art practice, gaining techniques and friends along the way.
Lisa began attending community art classes after experiencing the benefits of art therapy at Boston University Recovery Center. Additionally, she completed a Studio Arts Program at Gateway Arts, a community partner program for individuals living with disabilities in Boston. She had the incredible opportunity as a disabled black woman to learn more about archival practices and become introduced to many different medias and techniques through these programs. Lisa grew greatly from these experiences, sharing “Making art with fellow artists has been a great help for me socially and mental health wise. In turn, those artists have inspired me to continue to make art and pursue my own style.”
She continued her self exploration of local galleries and museums while adding new artistic skills to her toolbelt. Some of Lisa’s work is centered around portraits, specifically abstract portraits that depict underrepresented individuals, especially black women. Her portrait process involves layering and painting backgrounds, then finding a striking photo of a person that she wants to depict. She transforms this person into a silhouette, representing the many lives and experiences that person could exist in. She is passionate about representation of individuals with disabilities rights, as well as supporting the black and LQBTQ+ community.
“I love imagery of beautiful black faces and figures. I search everywhere for these images. There are pictures in magazines, advertisements and online. I take snapshots of places, objects and family members that hold my interest. From these I use an image that excites me. Ideas about scale, color and theme emerge from those images.”
Many of Lisa’s portraits also contain a surprise element: Morse code. She often uses morse code to emphasize the title or meaning behind the piece. She expresses, “I never thought that I would be so interested in a way of communicating in an oral, tactile and visual language. My Dad was in the Air Force a long time ago, and I got the ideas on morse code from just talking and being with him.” The inclusion of Morse code signals the viewer to think deeper about the many ways one can communicate, besides verbally.
Additionally, Lisa’s practice has expanded to include printmaking, which has been a joyful experience for her. Using gelli molds, recycled books, and unused mail, she creates unique, layered patterns with pops of color. Lisa explains, “My style has been consistently abstract. Finding different ways to push that is my goal.” Some of her prints are on recycled novels, which may show text of the book seeping through.
Lisa dreams of being in a black emerging artists show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as having the MFA purchase her work for their permanent collection. She also hopes to one day utilize a space where she can make large abstract paintings outside of her apartment. For now, she is creating as much as she can store, while learning and growing through it all.
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.