February, 2019

Kelly Sheppard Murray

LOCAL: art + ideas presents
Kelly Sheppard Murray’s Curiosities Series (2016-2019)
The largest showing to date of the more than 400 sculptures from this body of work. This is the Raleigh based artist’s first major solo exhibition.
Murray’s Curiosities Series is the cumulative output of the artist’s plan to produce one sculpture a day
for a year (December 2016-2017), in order to recast the temporal, practical, and material limitations of
her daily life into conditions of creative resolution and production. As the total number of sculptures
increased, the artist named each a Curiosity (with a sequential number), underlining the act of collecting
idiosyncratic and unusual objects. After completing 365 pieces (the artist tags each with its number),
Murray continued with the sculptures and, without the constraints of time, also expanded them to a
larger scale.
The array of colors, shapes, forms, and patterns present in the Curiosities echoes the daily theme and
variation of the actual making of each piece. Human interaction with nature remains an important
element in Murray’s work, and the sculptures balance biomorphic forms with industrial colors and
materials. At the start of the series, the artist used materials at hand: pieces of wood, bark, string, wire,
metal mesh, and encaustic. She eventually relied mostly on the wire and mesh, sometimes adding small
pedestals. The modest scale is consistent throughout the series, as Murray made each Curiosity by hand
and within a daily time period. Colors are nothing short of pronounced: bright, bold, booming. Even
when rendered in black or white, the sculptures have a resounding presence or, when they appear
monochromatic, layers of other colors peek through.
The Curiosities Series sustains no installation rules, and this fluidity is a nuanced counterpart to the
creative guidelines of the project. One may encounter the sculptures individually or in groups, and on
the wall, the floor or a pedestal. They may congregate by color, shape or scale, and in extended lines
or scattered groupings. To celebrate the ability for multiple stagings, the artist and curator (Beth
Handler Riebe) will reinstall the sculptures midway through the exhibit.
Murray shares the making of the Curiosities Series on Instagram, posting a picture of each sculpture
on the day of its completion. These posts act as a visual diary of and a dialogue about her process, with
the cumulative visual grid of Instagram merging into a record of the artist’s demarcation of each day
as a creative cell.
KELLY SHEPPARD MURRAY creates sculptures, paintings, and drawings that combine natural
and biomorphic forms, geometric shapes, and repetitive patterns. She is the recipient of the
International Encaustic Artists Emerging Artist Grant (2018); the Artspace (Raleigh) Emerging Artist
Residency (2016); and the Artist Project Grant, United Arts of Raleigh and Wake County (2012 and
2000). Recent solo exhibitions include: Second Nature at Holder Goods, Raleigh (2018) and a show at
Wake Technical Community College (2016). Recent group exhibitions from 2018 include: The Price
is Right, Tinney Concept, Nashville (Online); Dogwood Arts Regional Arts Exhibition, Knoxville; and
Raleigh Fine Arts Society’s NC Artists Exhibition. She is a native North Carolinian, with a BFA and
an MFA in sculpture from UNCG and ECU, respectively. Murray is Associate Professor of Studio Art
at Wake Technical Community College and maintains a studio at Artspace
LOCAL: art + ideas is a think tank based in Wilmington, NC, that supports art and ideas
flourishing beyond larger metropolitan areas and cultural networks. Beth Handler Riebe founded
LOCAL in 2013. Riebe worked in the NYC art world for twenty years, with curatorial stints at the
Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Yale University Art Gallery. She
served as an art consultant to Donald B. Marron (one of ARTnews’ top 200 collectors). She is a former
Trustee at the Cameron Art Museum and occasionally teaches art history at UNCW. Riebe received a
BA from Oberlin College, and an MA and a PhD from Yale University, with all degrees in art history.

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