Categorized | Print Stories

An Exhibit’s Thought

NEW YORK—Frank McCourt, The author of Angela’s Ashes, told the Irish Immigrant experience in words. The rock band U-2 tells it in music. And Collette Murphy tells it in paintings.

In a new show, “A Night Thought,” painter Collette Murphy reflects her feelings about being an Irish immigrant in America. Murphy portrays in acrylic the ships that brought her ancestor’s to the shores of North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The show, which is at the Irish Arts Center is on until January 17th 2013.

“So I tend to go back into Irish history. And there’s a lot of injustice. We’re usually the underdog and a lot of that comes true in my painting,” Murphy said.

Colette Murphy presenting her exhibit.

“I feel an obligation to my country to not just create stereotypes of what Ireland is and to actually represent it as a person not as a gimmick or as a marketing device,” she added.

But Murphy also wanted to emphasize contemporary issues, especially Irish immigrants who are in jeopardy today of being deported from America.

“America’s shores may not be open to immigrants much longer,” she said.

Mrs. Murphy, 44 is based in Brooklyn, has already presented her paintings in New York and throughout Europe. She uses her poetic and analytical ideation to portray simple-looking objects that wound up depicting many layers of what it is like to be Irish.

Through the gallery’s heartfelt collection of half a dozen paintings, more than 40 visitors enjoyed contemplating boats and icebergs with a sympathetic eye toward the Irish man.

“Endurance” portrays an isolated old-looking ship at the center of a beige linen canvas without any sight of the sea or the sky. Murphy loves to paint boats not only because she identifies with them but also because it represents her Irish ancestors.

“The Monk,” a white iceberg with violet reflections, and a striking quantity of details, is a dominant piece of her works.

“In relation to immigration the icebergs have been cut of from the glaciers. In that they seem to me as isolated. They seem they’ve been dejected from their homeland,” she said.

Murphy identified with the iceberg, as she struggles to fit in one place, including Ireland.

“Because once you return you ‘re never accepted the way that you were when you live there,” she said.

In an intimate and modest speech at the gallery, where she was dressed elegantly, in a silky beige dress with colorful shapes and brown suede heels, Murphy spoke with a shivering voice about her exhibition. Throughout the talk, she gave some anecdotes of her childhood describing her first experience with painting and her move to America as a child.

In itself, the work can look similar to Murphy’s 2008 paintings. She painted destroyed and sinking boats in a chaotic and desperate setting.

In “A Night Thought,” , “Manhattan,” one of the ship, was taking the whole canvas, emphasizing its dominance and resilience. Similarly “Little Boy Lost” was an iceberg with a small surface but a deep base that reflected the idea of resilience.

But the difference arises today when despite the melting aspect of the icebergs, there is hope in the boats’ strength and resilience, and there is hope in the depth and the detail of the icebergs.

“For me the ships are to give us courage no matter what the climate,” Murphy said.

Murphy decided “A Night Thought” the title of a Wordsworth poem, as title for her exhibit because she loves poetry and loves painting simple-looking objects which convey deep meanings.

She concluded her speech by the poem.

“From Fancy following in thy wake,

Bright ship of heaven!

A counter impulse let me take

And be forgiven.”

Leave a Reply

Torch on Twitter