Studio Visit: Holly Murkerson

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Traveling to Holly Murkerson‘s studio leads you into East Garfield Park–a place where a number of artists and alternative galleries call home. Holly’s studio is flooded with diffused sunlight from a large series of frosted windows on a far wall. Photographs hang on the wall being accompanied by loose collages spread on a table by the entry. Her studio reveals an artist who carries the same delicate sensibility through any medium she chooses.

Moving around the studio, Holly explains how material concerns have always been a part of her practice. The materiality can be seen in the photographs–the depth of field in the image of dust on a mirror creates a haunting landscape while the image flattens into obscurity. She talks of thinking sculpturally, even in photography. For her, photography has a lot to do with moving in space and this movement may insinuate sculpture. Holly admits this kind of thought is influenced by minimalism–the thought of the body moving around in a space. Perhaps, for Holly, this movement is more cerebral.


Holly tells us she studies ballet as an interest, which is not surprising after hearing of her thoughts on movement and time. She is also part of ADDS DONNA, a collective with a wonderful space on W. Lake with sharply curated exhibitions. When asked about other influences on her work and practice Holly answered, “my love life” with an ‘of course I don’t want to admit it’ sort of tone. This tone makes sense when Holly remarks, “Desire is a horizon.”

Holly feels that NYC is more competitive than Chicago, but being less competitive is not necessarily a negative thing. Being less competitive has opened up opportunities for Chicago artists that otherwise might not have been attainable. The abundance of alternative and artist-run spaces shapes the energy of the Chicago art scene. She feels this energy allows artists to feel comfortable taking risks with their art. This thought makes a lot of sense considering the large commercial aspect that is prevalent in NYC. Holly also talks about how important large, as well as affordable, studio space is. The combination of affordable large spaces, alternative galleries, and well-networked artists not afraid to take risks lead to an environment of experimentation.