Bright Colors and Big Ideas: Rebecca Murtaugh’s “Constructed Contemplations” at EOH

Over 100 people attended the opening of the exhibits on September 12.

Over 100 people attended the opening on September 12.

Rebecca Murtaugh wants your curiosity. The Philadelphia-born artist, whose show “Constructed Contemplations” is at the Earlville Opera House through October 31st, wants viewers to walk by the 3-D squares and rectangles she’s created and wonder, why? What? She wants them to note the richly textured, almost lichened surface of the objects, and understand that they have an inside and an outside just like the human body. She wants viewers drawn to the bright, opaque colors she chooses—colors that are often used in the names of her pieces.

“Colors have names that fit their characters,” Murtaugh says, and she happily combines those characters and repurposes them as titles, adding a layer of meaning, poetry, and sometimes, humor.

“Fusion and Radish,” a recent example, is a link-shaped hollow rectangle nearly six feet tall. The bumpy outside wears a mantle of vivid chartreuse, “Fusion,” while the inside is painted “Radish” red. The paint comes from Home Depot—the store’s mistints are Murtaugh’s goldmine—and represent another way Murtaugh incorporates a level of eco-sensibility to her process. She’s used everything from scrap wood to found objects to branches from her backyard as the foundation for her pieces. “I want the viewer to be inquisitive and to have a sense of wonder,” she says.

Murtaugh’s process is rooted solidly in spontaneity and artistic “play,” but it draws on elements of ceramics, chemistry, and even the science of nutrition, which was Murtaugh’s first major academic pursuit. Indeed, the bright hues she chooses could come directly from a McGraw-Hill biology textbook. But these days, Murtaugh, who teaches art at Hamilton College, says her inspiration comes from anywhere. “I don’t stifle my process in the studio,” she says. “If something is interesting I’ll pursue it.”

Works by artists Vartan Poghosian and Andrea Deschambeault-Porter will also be on exhibit at EOH during this time. For more information call 315-691-3550 or visit http://www.earlvilleoperahouse.com. The Opera House is located at 18 East Main Street, in Earlville, NY.

EOH events are made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and through the generosity of EOH members.

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