In the 1960’s and 70’s, my world was an over-grown rectangle of grass surrounded by hedges, a small, pink stucco house under an orange tile roof, palm trees, fruit trees, and an ancient cedar tree, its rough branches extending low for me to climb. There were animal allies, both real and pretend. There was time and solitude for imaginings.
Then, every little girl absorbed the spurious promise: “You are to be The Beautiful Princess.” My drawing and pretending filled up with the symbols of the power and vulnerability of The Beautiful Princess: towering tiaras over endless flowing hair, and impossibly tall, conical dresses, teetering on tiny slippers.
Now, in my fifties, as I contact my Inner Eight Year Old and return to these images, they offer me even more intense meaning, mysterious power, and visual possibility. Murphy holds an MFA in Sculpture from the Boston University College of Fine Arts.
fetish: an object believed to have magical to protect or aid its owner
It might seem a little strange, but ever since she was a young child Murphy has looked at shoes and found them looking back at her. “When shoes are lined up near a door or in a closet, they are trusty steeds, waiting to serve. Mouths yawning open, they sometimes look sleepy, grouchy, or fierce; sometimes they look like they are singing,” she says. After discovering a type of clay which adheres to almost any surface and which does not require firing in a kiln, Murphy saw the possibility of expressing her childhood vision of the faces on shoes. Since then she has made 85 pairs of shoe sculptures, putting an artistic spin on her own version of a foot fetish.