Ellie Murphy

Comb was created specifically for this space at Foundation Center. I began with the idea of a long fiber sculpture where one color slowly blends, combines, and fades into the next. Where the color strands are parallel individuals standing beside each other, but who also work together, braiding, and merging their textures and efforts to contribute to the collective whole.

I explore the relationship of personal and cultural nostalgia in subject matter, material, and method. My work straddles the line between childhood and adulthood while questioning the borders of fine art and traditional craft forms. Personal biography also is an influence. Having a child and fixing up and moving into an abandoned house made me look at the everyday and ordinary that surrounded me from a different perspective. My art also combines references to doll hair, crafts, folk motifs, and Americana from my 1970’s childhood in Kansas. I see interdependence among the multiplicities of cultures in our world and make sculpture as a way of recognizing and playing with the unintended and humorous connections between them.


After graduating from Lindsborg High School in Kansas, Ellie Murphy attended college at Washington University in
St. Louis, Missouri, and received her BFA in sculpture in 1987. She attended graduate school at Yale University School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut, earning her MFA in sculpture in 1992. Ellie lives and works in a formerly abandoned house in Queens that she and her husband purchased from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and then fixed up to be habitable.

Ellie has exhibited her work over the past 20 years in many group and solo shows throughout the U.S. including Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, Minnesota; Usdan Center at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont; Artist Curated Projects and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions in Los Angeles, California; Drawing Rooms in Jersey City, New Jersey; and Mount Airy Contemporary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. New York City shows include Brooklyn Public Library, The USB Gallery, Lesley Heller Workspace, Participant, White Columns, Outpost, Storefront, Norte Maar, and Schema. Ellie’s honors include a Greenwall Foundation grant, a Jerome Foundation fellowship, and The Susan Weadon Award.

Ellie is currently working on two upcoming solo shows at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, New York, and The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas.