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Susan Murrell

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Artist Statement

My work explores how our concept of landscape has changed through technology. The horizon traditionally defined our relationship to the world; now with our expanding perspective, we feel a kinship with microscopic images and aerial views of planets. Vestiges of built environments, architecture, or even graphic design and remnants of popular culture have been added to our visual language and create for us a sense of place. In this context, I consider myself a landscape painter.

These paintings were created as a meditation on passageways, life transitions, and the constancy of matter. I am fascinated by the fact that our bodies are quite literally composed of recycled matter from the stars. We are reshuffled molecules. I am constantly surprised by the complexity of our planet and how human activities have impacted it over time. Throughout the last few years of research and travel, my creative practice has focused on the universal and personal process of experiencing presence through absence— a struggle to know a thing from the hole it has left behind after it is gone.

I initiate projects with the aid of gravity and evaporation. I work with water media on polymer paper, allowing the pools of water and pigment to settle and form images over time. I am interested in painting as a method of creating an image that references other substances or realities, but also in paint being (or becoming) a thing within itself. Most recently I have gravitated to the juxtaposition of luminous, transparent areas and opaque, flat surfaces to create a sense of space and room to be.


Susan Murrell’s work investigates an expanding concept of landscape as our perspective continues to shift amid the climate crisis. Her paintings, installations, and works on paper have been created as a meditation on passageways, life transitions, and the constancy of matter. She has been awarded residencies at international programs such as Yaddo, Ragdale and, most recently, Arteles in Finland and Westfjords in Iceland. Recent exhibitions include Edge and Mirror: Landscape in the Anthropocene, a group exhibition curated by Kirsten Furlong at the Kay Hardy and Gregory Kaslo Gallery, Center for the Visual Arts at Boise State University, Outland About, a two-person exhibition curated by Patrick Collier at the Schneider Museum of Art at Southern Oregon University, and the solo exhibitions Absent Presence at Carnation Contemporary in Portland, Oregon, and we are all cosmic dust at the Autzen Gallery at Portland State University. Susan has received multiple Golden Spot and Mid-Career Artist Awards through the Ford Family Foundation, and in 2017 she was awarded sabbatical and won an Oregon Arts Commission’s Career Opportunity Grant. She is an Associate Professor of Art at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon, where she explores this spectacular corner of the state with her dog, Amiga.