What is the The Gift?

I painted a 4×7″ painting on wood panel back in 2020. My son painted the background and didn’t see a way forward with it, so he asked if I wanted to work on it. I did. I wanted to do white outlines on a dark background, practice some spontaneity. My subject matter is often disability and mortality. The result was The Gift.

The Gift by Joy Murray and son, 2020, acrylic paint and ink on board

The most frequent question I got about it was “What is the gift?” I didn’t have a definite answer. The pandemic hit just as I was finishing it. We were all thinking about out mortality. But shifting my gaze from my disability, from Covid, from a narrow definition of life seemed like a gift. All my friends and loved ones, I realized, ease my journey. They are a gift. The beauty of nature, all that lives and transforms, is a gift.

The painting was purchased but I saw it a few months ago, in the midst of a dense depression, and I wished I still had it. I decided to do another one, bigger, and include it in the Look Closer series.

Two months later, I’ve finished it. The flower outlines photograph as blue but they are really purple.

The Gift by Joy Murray, 2022, acrylic paint and ink on canvas, 20×24″
The Gift, detail
The Gift, detail
The Gift, detail

Again, the question people ask me about it is What is the Gift? I still don’t have a solid answer. I give the same answer I did 2 years ago. But in painting this, I realized how much acceptance of the shape and struggles of my life is a gift. And if there is no way of getting “better” or no way of surviving in this rich and beautiful mortal world, acceptance and hope for an afterlife is a gift, even if it turns out to be an illusion (I love my illusions). A flower that dies really becomes a seed, and then a new plant. It’s a gift to have these thoughts. Whatever direction I go, the friends and loved ones I have, the new ones I meet, the memories of those who have already died — all of this is the gift. Life is the gift — not always an easy gift, and definitely not a permanent one. Perhaps I’m a seed.

When I paint, I glance into the changing and amazing nature of life, no matter where I am on my journey.

Is that the gift?

What do you think?

~~~

Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share it, if you’d like.

This blog is brought to you by the generosity of people who support me on Patreon , buy my art, and who support me in so many different ways. 

If you’d like to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal

Cards and prints on some of my art is available on Redbubble.  

You can subscribe to this blog by email in the link below this post.

If you find a typo, let me know, and I’ll send you a postcard.

Happy Thanksgiving 2022

I am so thankful for all of you who support my art and my blog. I hope you have a blessed and peaceful holiday. I want to remember all the simple things I can be grateful for.

One tree has thousands of leaves but looks like only one thing, until this time of year when it lets go of so much. I can see how complex life is, all the colors — dark, light, brilliant, strong, delicate.

She Came Back as a Tree by Joy Murray

Frankd Robinson Exhibit October 2022

Good News — This exhibit will be up until 2023! So if you missed it in October, you can still go.

I was able to see the Frankd Robinson mid-career retrospective exhibit for the second time on Friday. My companion and I were the only one’s there, so I was able to get some photos of the work and enjoy the space. I’d been to the opening but was enjoying the art and people too much to get any good photos.

The exhibit is in 2 well lit rooms. Robinson’s work is often very dense with collage and elements that practically leap off the canvas. For him, almost anything can be a canvas — a skateboard, a bottle, an ironing board, a cooler top. The way the art is arranged gives each piece enough space that you can “read” it, study it, and really absorb it.

Everything is art to him. He uses labels, razor blades, rich thick paint, and words to create figures that display all that passes through our lives — figures emerging from and carrying all the confusion that surrounds us. I can’t compare his work to another artist because I don’t know of anyone who has such a unique style. He addresses problems of race, health, and poverty with power and grace. He shows chaos that nurtures beauty, and unlocks the grief of life and the human condition. His materials also create a space for humor and wonder.

In 2009, he had a show at the Dixon Gallery. Their bio of him said:

Frank D. Robinson Jr. is a Memphis native, obtaining his BFA from the University of Memphis before completing his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was also active in the noted summer youth-mural program led by George Hunt and Charles Davis locally in the early 1980’s, and was later a member of the NIA artist’s collective….

Robinson describes himself as a ‘recyclist’, able to turn anything he finds into art… While working at a charter school he would find garbage in the parking lot when he arrived each morning. He decided to make art from what would normally be discarded, teaching the children to transform bad situations into positive experiences by “turning trash into treasure.

Since then, he has had major health challenges, but has continued to work, and continued to create art that acknowledges pain and yet reflects optimism and energy.

Since it is a retrospective show, I got a deeper understanding of the stages of his career. It’s like a history written in the color and ephemera that makes up our lives. It’s the complex vision of a man who has faced mortality in many different ways and continues to “trust his struggle.”

The Martha and Robert Fogelman of Art at the University of Memphis, at 3715 Central, is open from 9-4 Monday through Friday. If you need directions, you can call the UofM art department at 901-678-3052.

Here are some examples of his work, but if you get a chance to see it in person, please do. It’s stunning.

Frankd Robinson and I talk about the healing power of art.
Frankd Robinson influencing and encouraging the community. Or as he says, giving “Love Never Fails”

~~~

Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share it, if you’d like.

If you scroll to the bottom of this post, past the comments, there’s a place to subscribe to the blog and it will be delivered to your e-mailbox each time I post.

This blog is brought to you by the generosity of people who support me on Patreon , buy my art, and who support me in so many different ways. 

If you’d like to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal

Cards and prints on some of my art is available on Redbubble.  

You can subscribe to this blog by email in the link below this post.

If you find a typo, let me know, and I’ll send you a postcard.

My Facebook page is blocked

Not Part of the Plan by Joy Murray

This weekend, my facebook account was both hacked and blocked. The hacker somehow got into my information and changed my contact email and phone number. So after I figured out the difficult process of how to report it to facebook, they wouldn’t do anything anyway, because they had a different email than mine. They won’t accept my phone number either. So after over a dozen years of friendships and sharing, I am off Facebook now.

I’ve been frantically changing all my passwords and trying to make the programs I use more secure.

Another frustrating thing is that I’m afraid the hackers are posting and messaging as me, and screwing up other people’s accounts. I don’t understand why anti-hacking isn’t more of a priority of the Metaverse but there’s not a lot I can do about it.

If you are a facebook friend of mine, please unfriend me. And don’t take facebook Joy’s messages or advice. She’s evil. (I guess I do have a sort of evil twin now.)

I’ve thought about quitting facebook lately for their weird algorithms. I also don’t get information from friends — it’s all become so random and tic-tocky. I kept at it because I have friends from all over the world I won’t hear from otherwise. It also cuts down on the isolation of having mobility and transportation problems. And I often find out about events I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise — though not as consistently as I used to.

I’ll probably post more on the blog now, and you can leave comments for me here. You can subscribe to the blog and it’ll be sent to your email address.

Thanks to all of you who have followed me on facebook all these years. So many times you’ve brightened gloomy days.

Keep safe and change your passwords often.

If you scroll to the bottom of this post, past the comments, there’s a place to subscribe to the blog and it will be delivered to your e-mailbox each time I post.

She Came Back as a Tree, by Joy Murray

~~~

Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share it, if you’d like.

This blog is brought to you by the generosity of people who support me on Patreon , buy my art, and who support me in so many different ways. 

If you’d like to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal

Cards and prints on some of my art is available on Redbubble.  

You can subscribe to this blog by email in the link below this post.

If you find a typo, let me know, and I’ll send you a postcard.