By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
Visual artist and longtime Palisadian Marisa Murrow paints iconic portraits of local mobile parks and abstractions around town and beyond.
“Part of the fascination with the trailer parks is the landscape,” Murrow said, adding that it is also related to moving around the plants and trees and changing the colors of the houses.
“It’s really exploring the landscape and human connection,” Murrow shared. “I was wearing a uniform up until I graduated from high school. There was a sameness I was very used to in school. It caused me to pass the surface and dive in to get to know people.”
She added that what is going on inside these homes is very special and different.
“I wonder what the person is like who lives in that house?” Murrow continued.
Murrow also takes commissions; she shared that some of the demand for her work comes from Palisadians who have left the area and miss it.
Growing up in the Palisades, Murrow attended Corpus Christi and Marymount High schools. Her parents, Phil and Pat, still live in the Alphabet Streets.
After graduating high school, Murrow left the Palisades to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Murrow has since exhibited her work at Laguna Art Museum, California Heritage Museum, LACMA Rental Gallery and the Brand Library Art, among many others.
Her exhibitions are often small, intimate portraits of mobile homes in Southern California. The uniformity of these geometric structures appeal to Murrow, she explained to the Palisadian-Post.
“Inspired by the California landscape and densely wooded forests of the east coast, Murrow thrives off the complexity of these spaces,” according to her website and Instagram. “Outside is my home. Painting is my passion.”
Murrow opened her Westwood studio in 2010. It’s set up as a workspace and a place where she meets with collectors.
About three years ago, while a resident at Vermont Studio Center, Murrow branched out to create abstract paintings inspired by the natural world. Lately, she’s working abstractly and representationally, Murrow shared.
“When I do the abstract work, I’m physically working with nature in my hands,” she explained. “The thread through everything I do is nature.”
Murrow shared that she still loves to hike Temescal and Los Liones Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains and often collects nature for her work. She uses a mixture of oil paints, paper and acrylic, and incorporates natural materials she picks up while hiking.
“I like things that are in movement where the physical and psychological can play,” Murrow explained. “Much like German artist Anselm Kiefer, holding on to the things I collect in nature, these elements become part of the painting and the place they come. Like a compositional storm between chaos and order these richly textured paintings describe the restless state of a spirit being set free.”
Murrow shared her reflections on how COVID-19 has impacted her life as an artist.
“I think it’s business as usual with a lot more solitude,” Murrow said. “There are no distractions. What is challenging is that because I spend a lot of time in isolation and look forward to being social and rewarding myself for my hard work and there’s nothing to go out and do.
“I live alone so it’s been really interesting to go within, instead of reaching out for stimulation. I think a lot of people have been forced to sit down and think about how they are living on this planet. This pause has caused me to go deeper and stand through to that.”
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