Katrina Murray lost her son in war, and her new series of paintings is a record of her struggle to come to terms with this loss. She does so through deeply metaphorical work portraying the natural world. “I wish I could be cool in the sun” shows a desert landscape complete with prickly pear rendered in cool shades of blue and green. In Murray’s paintings there are no vast horizons: she prefers to focus in tightly on a piece of earth of her own imagining. Blues and greens predominate in her compositions so much that when you see a brush stroke of red it almost startles you.
“I wish I could make air” focuses in on a group of flowering plants. There is a delicate balance achieved in the composition between the whites and blues of the sky, and the flowering plants and tree branches that get their nourishment from — and in turn nourish — the air. Accordingly, you can see patches of blue sky, through the branches, all the way down to the bottom of the canvas.
Using oil and graphite on muslin-covered panels, Murray paints, then lets the paint dry, paints again, sands down and paints again. Expressionistic touches are visible throughout this body of painting as fits her aggressive and vigorous process. Be sure to read the seven-lined poem that goes along with this work. Each of the lines of said poem, that starts with the line “I wish I could burrow into the ground” and ends with “I wish I could fly” is in itself a title of a painting in this series. You might see this body of work as a poetic/painterly analog to the Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief. Or it might just lift you off the ground. Through July 28 at Wug Laku's Studio and Garage