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Ardmore artist offers fliers scenic views before they even leave the ground

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By TARA LYNN JOHNSON   
For 21st Century Media

Deirdre Murphy’s flying high with four of her works on display at the Philadelphia International Airport. The images, which are enlarged versions of smaller paintings, greet hurried travelers as they speed by on the moving walkway or leisurely amble through Terminals C and D. The exhibit is aptly titled “Deirdre Murphy: Sky Paintings.”
The original acrylic-on-panel paintings are 11 inches tall by 36 inches wide. The airport professionally digitally reproduced them for exhibit. The paintings display “themes of nature and blue skies accentuated with birds and kite-like elements, (and) emulate the exhilarating sense of motion and freedom as one soars through the air,” according to the airport’s website.
Murphy said that the airport’s exhibitions director invited her to participate after seeing that she was producing panoramic paintings of landscapes and sites throughout the Delaware Valley.

"Grand Passage" by Deirdre Murphy. Photo submitted by Deirdre Murphy

“Grand Passage” by Deirdre Murphy. Photo submitted by Deirdre Murphy

“It was a great honor to be asked,” said Murphy, whose work has been exhibited extensively in the Philadelphia region, nationally, and internationally.
The airport’s exhibition program began in 1998 as a way to “humanize the airport environment, provide visibility for Philadelphia’s unique cultural life, and to enrich the experience of the traveling public,” according to their website. Exhibitions rotate throughout the year in various locations throughout the airport grounds. Some are accessible by the public; others are in ticketed passenger only areas.
Murphy thinks it’s so appropriate to have photos of her paintings of birds at the airport.
“People migrate. Birds migrate,” she said. “That’s why I was so tickled. This is so perfect.”
Throughout her career, Murphy has created works of art from life, from observation. For about 10 years now, she has been fascinated by birds. She especially enjoys watching and painting the flocking of birds.

"Drifting Winds" by Deirdre Murphy. Photo submitted by Deirdre Murphy

“Drifting Winds” by Deirdre Murphy. Photo submitted by Deirdre Murphy

“The way they twist and turn and move simultaneously — it’s so pretty, like a spectacle in the sky,” she said. “I’m always looking in amazement. How do they know how to coordinate, like a ballet?”
She’s fascinated by patterns and, in regard to the birds, the rules that guide “the collective swarm to pulse, shift and change,” she said.
Murphy, an adjunct professor of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania, lives in Ardmore, but loves to migrate, too. Two little ones at home mean travel is curtailed for the time being.
“I think I paint about birds and flight because I love to travel and because I don’t get to that much right now,” she said.
Although the airport paintings are only able for ticketed passengers to view (it’s past security checkpoints), non-flying art lovers can see the paintings on the airport’s website and on Murphy’s website — www.deirdremurphyart.com.  The Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia, which represents Murphy, has part of the original series on view as does the Main Line Art Center in Haverford.
Whether it’s travelers at the airport or people who discover her work in galleries, Murphy’s happy to share her view and encourage others to celebrate life.
“Art is a way of expressing what it is to be alive,” she said.

WHAT: “Deirdre Murphy: Sky Paintings”
WHEN: Through March 2015
WHERE: Philadelphia International Airport, between terminals C and D (for ticketed passengers only).
INFO.: www.deirdremurphyart.com,
http://www.phl.org/arts/Pages/artsexhibitions_default.aspx

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