ERIN GANNON ’19
As most young children do, Erin Murphy ‘19 had an active imagination as a child. She would invent towns and families, drawn up in elaborate images. What made this week’s Bantam Artist of the Week different, though, is that she literally drew her imagination. Fascinated by architecture and sketching, young Murphy had created a multitude of drawings depicting a town and over 200 families to occupy it, each with a complex family structure and intricately designed floor plans.
It wasn’t until her junior year of high school, however, that Murphy realized her hobby-turned-passion was a rare talent worth pursuing. She took art classes all throughout high school, ranging in subject matter from drawing to photography to studio art. After excelling in numerous classes that broadened her artistic talents across many media, Murphy began refining her skills in the realm of realism at the end of her high school career.
“Portrait drawing is my favorite,” she said. “I’m actually sick of drawing people in my family. Everyone in my immediate family has a portrait, including my dog.”
Murphy never finds inspiration in the same way twice. Whether asked to draw a portrait of family members or friends, crafting an idea for an art class assignment, or drawing on (pun intended) the world around her, she prides herself on the diversity with which she finds inspiration. “Each piece has a special meaning to me. Sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s sad, or sometimes it’s frustrated if its for an assignment that I don’t feel like finishing. Either way, my attitude towards a project always comes out in the finished product.”
Going into her freshman year of college, Murphy already boasted an impressive resume. A lifelong resident of Massachusetts, she was selected to enter her work into the Massachusetts Art All-State competition during her junior year of high school. For this program, two students from every high school in Massachusetts are granted the chance to apply for an opportunity to stay overnight at the Worcester Art Museum and work with other young artists as well as professionals in a workshop-like setting. Together, the group of artists critique one another’s work, and the event culminates in a group effort to create an “installation,” which is a type of three-dimensional art genre that warps the perception of space using various objects to create an interactive environment.
Murphy also had the opportunity to participate in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. To be selected for this competition, Murphy’s work was judged on a regional scale. After winning a range of gold and silver honors as well as honorable mentions regionally, she had multiple pieces that moved on to the national scale, giving her the opportunity to travel to Carnegie Hall in New York City. One of her pieces won a silver medal at this national competition.
“It was so cool to meet artists from all over the country,” Murphy said. “It was intimidating at first, being in the presence of all of these really talented artists. But then you remember that you’re there for the same reason as everyone else—to make the most of the opportunity. I learned so much from these people, both as artists and as people.”
When going through the college decision-making process, Murphy had a lot of considerations to juggle. She considered applying to art schools like the Rhode Island School of Design and the Pratt Institute, but ultimately decided that it was important to keep her options open. “As much as I love art, I don’t want studying it full-time in college to turn it into a chore,” she said. “I want to pursue it at my leisure, I don’t want to be forced to produce anything, which is what I was scared would happen if I got into any of those schools. Trinity kept both doors open for me.”
With her impressive talents, it’s a wonder how Murphy managed to elude being named the Bantam Artist of the Week as long as she did—but the reason is simple. “Even though art can be competitive, it isn’t a competition and it’s not about notoriety. It’s something I do for fun, and I want it to stay personal to me.” (It was only after months of pestering that she finally agreed to participate in this article, most likely to get me to stop bugging her).
Murphy is undecided in what she will major in. She intends to pursue art in some capacity, whether through more Studio Arts courses, Art History courses, or Architecture studies. Besides art, Murphy is also considering majors in Public Policy and Law, Psychology, and Economics.
ERIN GANNON ’19