Althea Murphy-Price, Goody Girl No. 3, 2018, giclée print, 36 x 26 in.
Presented by the Museum’s Black History Month Committee
Althea Murphy-Price, Play, 2016, lithograph, screenprint, collage, 30 x 22.5 in.
The accomplished works of this mid-career printmaker and sculptor from Knoxville, TN explore the links between individuality and assimilation, and their influence on culture and personal identity. Murphy-Price often manipulates manufactured synthetic and human hair, emphasizing its role as embellishment, as well as its ability to signify racial identity. She explains, “I am fascinated by the inexplicable link between the subject of hair and its influence on our social culture and personal identity. Much of my inspiration has derived from hair’s significant relevance to Black American culture and community.” Murphy-Price uses both hair and hair accessories to create prints and sculptural installations, including signature Hair Rugs which are created by dusting synthetic hair over a lace overlays to create striking carpet-like patterns.
Murphy-Price’s prints are a fitting complement to her sculptural applications of hair, each referencing and mimicking one element of the seemingly endless universe of artificial hair. The artist creates these works via the process of photolithography, in essence taking a photo exposure to capture information from the actual object, and then translating it into a print. In some, screen-printed elements are added to lithographic images of hair arrangements to look like actual hair ties. “My desire with these prints is to deceive the eye,” the artist observes, “so that one will look, and look again, and question whether it’s the real thing or not.”
Murphy-Price received her BA in studio art from Spelman College in Atlanta. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts in printmaking and painting from Purdue University and her Master of Fine Arts at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. She is currently Associate Professor of Printmaking at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Organized by HMA.