Artist Molly Murphy Adams has big plans
Tulsan explores large-scale native art forms through the Tulsa Artist Fellowship.
Specializing in contemporary sculptural beadwork and printmaking, Molly Murphy Adams creates designs that serve as a cultural narrative and an expression of her personal experience.
“What makes art native or indigenous is not the materials,” says local artist Molly Murphy Adams. “It’s about the perspective or the story you’re telling, and the result will be a native perspective regardless of what the material is.”
A descendant of the Oglala Lakota tribe, Murphy Adams spent much of her childhood on the Salish Kootenai Reservation in Montana. It was there she learned traditional native art forms such as beadwork, pow wow regalia and moccasin making.
In 2004, Murphy Adams earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Montana and sought to find her identity as an artist. By incorporating multiple disciplines to create fiber and mixed-media art pieces, what emerged was a delicate blend of Murphy Adams’ rich cultural history and her love for contemporary art forms. “I started by taking those things that I knew from my heritage and putting them through the filter of my art education,” Murphy Adams says.
She relocated to Tulsa in 2010 after traveling here periodically for art functions and work. “On a trip here, I met my future husband at a show at the Cain’s,” she says. “We dated long-distance for a year before marriage and packing me off to Oklahoma.”
Now she is one of 27 artists accepted to the 2019 Tulsa Artist Fellowship, established by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Moving from her small home studio, Murphy Adams is eager to embark on the opportunities the fellowship will provide. “With this fellowship, I’m really excited to take on projects and be able to do them on a much larger and more ambitious scale,” she says, “and to take away the constraints of space, material and time.”
This year, Murphy Adams has plans for large-scale printmaking and photography projects, as well as applying for solo shows. Her enthusiasm stems from TAF’s mission: “What they’re trying to do is remove obstacles for people who are really on the verge of doing something big,” she says.