The first virtual workshop in the Art in Dialogue series was hosted by Lehigh University Art Galleries and Deirdre Murphy, an art, architecture and design professor, over Zoom on April 18. The workshop aimed to explore the connections between art and other subjects, and to also make art accessible to the Lehigh community and the public.
“It’s been an interesting challenge to shift programs that were meant to be in person to a digital format, but I think we’ve really been able to adapt well, working collaboratively with presenters from the art, architecture and design department,” said Stacie Brennan, curator of education for Lehigh University Art Galleries. “There have been some really wonderful presentations so far, highlighting the interdisciplinary work that our faculty are doing.”
During the workshop, Murphy talked about her experiences with the Hawk Mountain Bird Sanctuary, her interest in bird migration patterns and her process for doing artwork inspired by birds and the science surrounding them.
Murphy’s interest in migration formed when she started to get interested about the effects of climate change on birds. When she began to work with scientists, they allowed her to have access to their graphs and maps, which gave her deeper insight through research, she said.
She uses this research-based approach to create paintings, sculptures and other pieces that depict birds and their flight and migration patterns.
Jamie Dawson, the director of education at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, led part of the workshop by educating those in attendance about birds of prey.
“I thought it was a super fun collaboration,” Dawson said. “We wanted to support Deirdre (Murphy) because she was a former artist in residence. She’s very talented. Her work is just amazing.”
Dawson also said she enjoyed hearing about how Murphy’s experiences at Hawk Mountain, the world’s first sanctuary for birds of prey, inspired and influenced her artwork.
“We are leaders in raptor conservation, science and education, locally and globally,” Dawson said.
Hawk Mountain offers a number of educational programs and art classes for children, as well as adults, which fit in well with the family-oriented Art in Dialogue workshop, Dawson said. She said she would like to encourage more members of the Lehigh community to take part in these types of events with their families.
Murphy often leads art workshops and Make and Take events, but she said there have been technological barriers to holding them online. She and her two kids had to reorganize their kitchen to make room for filming and follow YouTube tutorials to perfect their camerawork, she said.
Murphy’s daughter assisted during the Zoom session by demonstrating how to make collages, while Murphy taught techniques for painting and drawing hawks. The goal was to introduce art techniques for various ability levels.
“I love to engage all ages and make artwork accessible,” Murphy said.
The finished art depicted hawks and the patterns they make as they fly.
Murphy said attendance for the Art in Dialogue series has remained high, despite the switch to online communication. Attendance has also been good for her classes in drawing, painting and printmaking.
The high attendance rates are due to the fact that art is an enjoyable creative outlet, which is increasingly important during quarantine, Murphy said.
Most attendees were Lehigh students. However, in the past year, more family-oriented programs have been offered, Brennan said.
“(Quarantine has) been an opportunity for us to engage a wider demographic of audience members, both from on campus and throughout the art community and the Lehigh Valley,” Brennan said.
The Art in Dialogue series will continue to grow and adapt throughout the coming months. LUAG is working on building its website as a resource for individuals and families in the community to engage in dialogue about art and culture, Brennan said.
While several upcoming Art in Dialogue events have been postponed or canceled due to coronavirus, “In The Belly Of The Architect,” led by Anthony Viscardi and Tim Higgins, is still scheduled for April 28.
More of Murphy’s work is found on her website.