Kelly Sheppard Murray’s multimedia sculptural work fashions a wide range of polymorphic, multicolored structures that have their roots in natural forms. She draws from the shapes of plants, moss, lichen, fungi, shells and geological forms. Murray’s output responds to her observation of urban development within her surroundings, where she sees the devastating human impact on nature. As a way of engaging the viewer to think about their fragile relationship with the environment, Murray’s sculptures made from cast-off industrial aluminum and layered encaustics transform the materials of construction into objects reminiscent of the natural world. Collecting hundreds upon hundreds of Curiosities, as she calls them, Murray slowly and deliberately assembles her pieces for installation—each one a unique building block within the visual language she articulates within her exhibitions. The process reflects Murray’s interest in how language shapes our understanding of the world. By developing her own malleable visual idiom, Murray expresses her great curiosity and invites that of her audience. Further, through her careful and patient work day-to-day, she reminds us how small steps can have a significant impact on both our perceptions of the world and our environment itself.

Murray follows her intuition and welcomes the chaotic nature of her process—at the level of individual sculptures but also at the level of display. Her challenge when selecting pieces to mount is how to integrate and organize the collection, considering color, shape, texture, positioning, and pattern. In her “Second Nature” exhibition, for instance, pieces from the Curiosities series were arranged in a rather dense but fluid and amorphous stretch along the wall space. Chromatically, from left to right, the similarly-colored groupings of pieces moved according to the order of the rainbow—beginning with orange and yellow and returning to red in a playfully disordered order. In other exhibitions, Murray has organized her pieces within grids—at times using more conventional color alignment, at other times ordering the pieces according to the chronology of their creation, as each work is labeled numerically. By arranging and rearranging her sculptures, accepting that there is always more than one possible configuration, more than one story to tell, Murray subverts the human inclination to structure and categorize the world. Rather than heed this limiting impulse, Murray remains open to change, regarding the world with wonder and awe.

Kelly Sheppard Murray lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her work has recently shown at the Durham Art Guild’s 65th Annual Juried Exhibition and was exhibited at Willowtree App with DAG’s art@work program; VAE, Raleigh’s The Lab; Wilma Daniels Gallery, Wilmington, and the Knoxville’s Dogwood Arts Regional Art Exhibition. You can follow her work on Instragram @kellysheppardmurray_art.