Thursday, May 11, 2017


Kelly Murphy is a Brooklyn-based poet.  Her collaborative exhibition with visual artist Madelyn Owens, "Muscle Memory" opens this Friday, May 11th for a two week showing at Brooklyn's World Money Gallery.  Big Shoe Diaries interviewed Ms. Murphy about her writing and her friendship and collaboration with Ms. Owens. All work featured in this interview © Madelyn Owens 2017.

Glamour Shot - 16" x 20" - Acrylic, glitter and collage on canvas

BSD: What inspired the collaboration for Muscle Memory?

It kind of evolved naturally, as all the best things do. Maddie and I attempted several projects together over the years, but after working independently for awhile, we realized a lot of our themes intersected in a really organic way. So much of both of our work revolves around the female experience, and when we started examining the evolution and experience of our own friendship, its freedoms and its tensions, the collaboration emerged.

#17 - 9" x 12" Chalk on paper

BSD: Have you paired your writing with work by a visual artist before?  How was this different from previous creative projects for you?

Nope. It was primarily different in that I don't ordinarily collaborate, so finding a rhythm of checking in, figuring out how to not force it, identifying what the flow would be, and not having complete control--this was all new for me. You'll discover in my work that I love control :)

So it was a refreshing and ultimately transformative process. I wish the integration of visual and verbal art was more common. Don't we need language to inform aesthetics? Doesn't the visual illuminate the verbal?

#22 - 18" x 24" - Ink on paper

BSD: Do you make visual art as well? What differences do you see in the roles of writers versus artists?

I don't, but I'd like to start collaging. 

Fundamentally, I think the mission of both forms, from my perspective, is to help the audience feel understood.

Writers generally work more in long form--you have to spend time with a book or a series of poems or an op-ed. In this way, good writers learn to immerse you in an experience and hold your hand to the finish line. What's the takeaway? Does this adjust your worldview? Should it?

With visual art, you have less time to absorb. In this way, it can rely less on the cerebral and more on the emotional. How do you feel when you stand in front of a painting? We surround ourselves with this type of media, it hangs from our walls. We let it shape our environments.

#45 - 12" x 18" - Ink on paper

BSD: Is the work more personal or political?  In what ways?

This work is deeply personal. The personal kind of spawns the political, right? Maddie and I have known each other for a decade. She taught me how to smoke weed at 19. We've seen each other through some of the darkest and messiest and most violent times we've known. We've sobbed, screamed, and slapped our way into one of those bonds where we've felt each other's suffering and let it shape our values and morals and beliefs about intimacy. Maddie fucking gets it.

So when it came time to create something rooted in the pain and anxiety and fear we were both facing at the time, it made sense to ground it in our shared experience. We've taught each other how to live as women--actively.

The butts in this show are quite personal, too. Literally.

#15 - 18" x 24" - Watercolor and ink on paper

BSD: How would you describe your own writing practice?

Oh, man. Haphazard. Slow. Born of big feelings. I don't know any other way to communicate as honestly. I never have.
Join the artists for the opening event at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 12th.

#36 - 10" x 10" - Watercolor and conte on paper 

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