Aífe Murray

Artist's Statement

Artist Views Her Lineage
Artist Views Her Lineage, xerox art (1994)
(L to R: artist, son, and Dickinson employees: Margaret Maher, Tom Kelley, Margaret Kelley)

Re-constitution of/out of silence demands many different forms. It is an excavation, a search for language lost. This is why I do so much genre-bending and language switiching across visual and installation art, performance, poetry, scholarly writing, and prose. There is an absolute power of the work/subject to carry me into these various "languages." When I cannot express something in one language, I "say" it in another. I learned to silkscreen in order to move language off the page and onto domestic implements--ironing boards, aprons, tables, chairs--and clothing.

I am relocating the word to the hearth, and to the "mother's body" where first language is heard and made. Thus I put writing onto clothing to locate the texture of the text to the body of the book. The work is sited in the kitchen as subject because it is the place of creative origin--activities normally carried out in the kitchen are artistry but not recognized as such. The kitchen, i.e., feminine space, is de-valued artistically. My interest is to obscure the border between life and art, so that the viewer experiences the slippage--what is domesticity, what is art. My method is to write and silkscreen in the kitchen and dining room. During the day, I cover the table with fabric and paper to make prints (or books and index cards if I am doing research) and at night we eat at the same table--to create a fluidity and to make a pathway, a lineage, to art for women out of and into our traditional sites.

Art of Service is an installation and public art work that is part of my multidisciplinary work-in-progress: Kitchen Table Poetics. Conceived for the Mead Museum's exhibit, ("Language as Object--Emily Dickinson and Contemporary Visual Art"), Art of Service re-maps the universe from the perspective of those who have remained invisible or uncelebrated, both in the 19th century and right now in the Dickinson story--those who now maintain the poet's home as a museum. What is art, who makes it, and who is considered important and valued?

Aífe Murray

February 8, 1997
Aife's Logo

This project has received funding from the Irish American Cultural Institute and Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Inc. Related poems and prose have appeared in Rooms, Chain/2, Chain/3, and The American Voice (#34 and #39). Scholarly work has been published in the Emily Dickinson Journal (5:2, Fall 1996, 285-296) and is forthcoming in An Emily Dickinson Encyclopedia, edited by Jane D. Eberwein (Greenwood, 1998) and Emily Dickinson's Correspondences: An Electronic Archive CD-ROM, edited by Ellen Louis Hart, Martha Nell Smith, and Marta Werner.