Interview with Melissa Murray: “The type of change I’d like to see will almost be invisible, growing from the simple notion that there is no division between the sexes”

Artist Melissa Murray talks about her experience in women’s co-op gallery A.I.R., initiatives for women artists, women in the visual art scene and her artistic work. “In a way, I look forward to a day where Women’s collectives are no longer necessary, it means we succeeded in equality”, says Murray.

How did you get to know A.I.R. and how is your involvement with the gallery today?

I first encountered A.I.R. in my undergraduate studies at Purchase College and continued to be inspired by the history and ongoing mission the Gallery has of supporting Women in the arts. Years later I applied to be a New York member and was accepted. I am currently the youngest member of the group, reside on the Executive Committee and am heading our second residency at Governors Island this coming summer.

Why is it important to participate today, 2015, of an initiative like A.I.R., that advocate for women in the art world?

Because there is still a need for us to exist. In a way, I look forward to a day where Women’s collectives are no longer necessary, it means we succeeded in equality. I do not have dreams for my work to stand out as Woman’s work, I have expectations of it seamlessly existing on it’s own merit alongside the art of Men and Women Artists alike. The current statistics of successes in Male vs Female artists are shameful and until things change there will always be a need for places like A.I.R. to be the voice of Women artists.

How do you see the participation of women in this scenario?

Through the many branches of feminism, Women make their own voice with the topics important to them. Some groups conflict others and some are symbiotic, but the bottom line in the majority of collectives is that Women are still not considered equal in our society. Women need never settle, always need to rock the boat and remain steadfast in their convictions, no matter their fight. I am confident I will see change in my lifetime, the type of change I’d like to see will almost be invisible, growing from the simple notion that there is no division between the sexes.

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Melissa Murray – Nest. 2015.  Source: http://melissamurraynyc.com/

Do you think man and women can be today equivalent competitors in the art world – not in terms of artistic production, but in terms of societal challenges?

It’s absolutely possible. The scales are most certainly tipped in favor of the Male artist, anyone can see that by picking up any number of art publications. However, when I think in terms of societal challenges, I feel both Men and Women have a lot of responsibilities in our social structure. Any way you slice it, the single working people, the families with two working partners, the stay at home parent… everyone has a lot of responsibilities and with the exemption of the few who can lucratively sustain their art on it’s own, most of us have other responsibilities in addition to our art. There is an equality there. The problem with any one of these arrangements is that the work of the sexes are not valued equally.

Since 1972, when A.I.R. was created, many things were accomplished by women but we know there are still a lot to do and to fight for. What do you think women should fight for in the art world today?

Equality. I am not of the mind set that Women’s work is of more importance than Men’s work, I would like to see no division of the sexes and have society focus on the value of art, not who created it. There is a long fight to get to this point of ambiguity and perhaps in the road ahead women need to make their work have precedence over that of the male artist to be heard, but I hope our end goal will be a like a symbiotic one.

The house and domestic elements seem to play an important role in your work. How do you see the presence of these elements in your process?

Domesticity is a part of my daily work and I pride myself in self sufficiency. My work outside of my home is my career in the arts and in certain paintings the two worlds overlap, bridging my domestic life with an existence more surreal.

Do you think there is a difference between women and men sensibilities?

We can be different creatures. Yet there is a human line that connects us, a sameness. Perhaps that is what we need to focus on to create an equality in our creative practices. There can be a difference in the work that a man created compared to that of a woman but I don’t think their has to be, it’s really dependent on what inspires the individual artist and politics may play a part of that.

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Melissa Murray – Winter. 2013  Source: http://melissamurraynyc.com/

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