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Murphy-Price thinks about memory, time and artificiality

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Althea Murphy-Price likes to keep people guessing, so it may take a while to figure out what the primary media are in her exhibition “Artificial.”

Here’s a hint: You’ll find it on your head, but not really.

There are two types of work in the exhibition. On the wall are lithographic prints, each comprised of innumerable fine lines. In the middle of the Hiestand Gallery is a larger installation that appears similar, but the material creating the lacy image is not printed on the base, but simply lying there, tiny black fibers on a white background.

“These were intended to be installed in a salon or barbershop,” she said, “the remnants of another creative process.”

Yes, Murphy-Price makes art out of hair. But it’s artificial hair, not human, although it’s meant to appear so.

“The concept of artificiality and falsity is something I think about,” she said. “I associate hair with identity and culture, and I use it to talk about personal relationships to culture.

“I also like the concept of hair as something we prize, but also something that can be seen as dirty or disgusting.”

She created the pattern by placing a lacy table cloth on the base, then sprinkling it with finely cut pieces of hair, giving it an sense of fragility, “to be both something and nothing,” she said. The prints take that technique a step further by making it a permanent image.

“This work is similar to how people would use hair as a way of remembering,” she said. “The majority of my work is about my feelings on memory and time.”

The table cloth, for instance, revisits some of her earliest memories of things she saw in her grandmother’s closet.

“That’s where I got my first interest in art and being an artist,” she said.

  • WHAT: “Artificial” by Althea Murphy-Price
  • WHERE: Hiestand Galleries, Hiestand Hall, Miami University, Oxford
  • WHEN: Through Nov. 14
  • COST: No charge
  • MORE INFO: (513) 529-1883; www.fna.muohio.edu/galleries



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