Artist Profile: Hollie Murphy… Surrealism and Expressionism Combine To Forge A New World

1-Moon Drop Descent-Acrylic (2)
Moon Drop Descent

There’s no eloquent way for me to describe the excellence of 35-year-old Corvallisite Hollie Murphy’s artwork, so I’ll just say this: it’s really, really good. She works in many different areas, spending efforts on painting as well as designing art and usable items from recycled materials (having even created a collage made out of dog hair once upon a time). When I first encountered her work, I was instantly impressed, but much more so after visiting her Etsy shop (linked below) and finally getting to dive headfirst into a larger body of painted content.

4-Inside Out Brown & Blue-Acrylic
Inside Out Brown & Blue
7-Inside Out Pop-Acrylic
Inside Out Pop

Murphy’s painted work is rich, humanistic, and precise—not necessarily coming from a specific stylistic place, in an academic sense, but very distinct and assuredly in line with whatever social and psychological condition spawned forth the Neo-Expressionist movement of the 1980s (but with obvious visual weight lent from surrealism). Aesthetically she has a very steady hand and either carefully chooses every last line and color, or makes fools of us all by appearing to do so. The work has a sense of object permanence that suggests everything is where it should be, just how nature lets a tree drop its leaves in all the right spots (except for on my car, of course).

Two friends and a balloon
Two friends and a balloon

Content-wise, I’m not an easy guy to get an emotional response from, but I’ll be damned if a few of her pieces didn’t stop me in my tracks. When viewing “Moon Drop Descent” in particular, I found myself remembering incredibly emotional times that I had thought long buried. Not even anything specific, just the underlying feeling of it. The neutrality of intent in the emotion being displayed, being neither happy nor sad, yet intense, is an incredible message.

“People are going to look at art and feel something different depending on the day, the circumstances, and such,” she says. “I like light and dark in my work… it’s kind of everything.”

Influenced by Frida Kahlo, 1960s design, and a high school art teacher that was very instrumental in her development, Bill Gillham, Murphy was accepted at both PNCA and Cornish, but took a different path. One that has thankfully landed her here in our backyard as part of the Temporary Artists’ Guild.

15-Monster Portrait Triclops-Acrylic
Monster Portrait Triclops

“I really just like to have fun while making art, and not get too serious. I prefer to work smaller, but when I’m working on larger pieces, I don’t plan, I just go,” she comments.

When unwrapping the mystery of her technique, which renders fantastically sharp lines at times, she says, “I use a lot of scratchy things: nails, screwdrivers, forks.” She didn’t mention the classic broken pair of scissors (my tool of choice), but nobody’s perfect.

To check out more of Hollie Murphy’s work—and you should—visit or head over to her upcycled Etsy shop at This September she will also be showing at Downtown Dance, 223 NW 2nd Street.
By Johnny Beaver