Three years ago, I began dismantling and reassembling a volume set of “Metropolitan Seminars in Art” by John Canaday. I was interested in altering his narrative, writing new stories over the old. Part of my process is the continuous rhythm of deconstruction and reconstruction–breaking down this vintage canon of art history from the 1950s and reworking it to my own liking. I ripped out pages, tore them up, obliterate sections with whitewash and graphite, then reassembled the parts until it spoke some truth to me. It has been an ongoing, mysterious search.
At first, I mostly hand-sewed the pieces back together. I saw stitching as a symbolic way to mend things I thought were broken or in need of repair. My fascination with staples began innocently enough when I used them to rescue a sewn piece when thread alone was not working. I then realized the beauty of staples and was utterly seduced when I smeared them with graphite and wax. Let alone the satisfying, echoing kaCHUNK with every staple—they are the perfect material for dark times.
At the start of this project, my original thoughts were of women overlooked by the art system and art history. With the eruption of events in 2020, it was impossible not to expand my focus to other forms of systemic inequality and those treated differently or unfairly—my stitching and stapling attempts to bring together disparate parts and reconstruct them in a new way.
Lori Murphy is a mixed media artist living and working in San Francisco. Her art spans a diverse range of interests, from works on paper and found-object sculptures to street art. Using everyday materials and environments, Murphy creates her personal narratives. She has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the Bay Area and received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.