Wildlife art finds temporary home in museum • The Malibu Times

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Acclaimed Artist Holds Malibu Exhibit With Her Early Works From The 1970s

By Trisha Anas

Special for the Malibu Times

Snakes, hawks, vultures and cats wandered through Pepperdine University’s Weisman Museum of Art last month.

But don’t worry, they won’t bite, they’re carvings.

Described as a retrospective exhibition, “Animal Nature” features animal and human sculptures made by artist Gwynn Murrill from a wide range of materials, including bronze, laminated wood and marble.

Murrill was 21 when she discovered her passion for sculpture. Her first piece is a rocking horse, made from a few wooden blocks she found at a construction site.

In an interview with Weisman’s acting director, Andrea Gyorody, Murrill said that she initially studied painting, but branched out into sculpture when she had to take a few classes to get her degree. degree at UCLA.

“The idea of ​​doing sculpture was new and exciting, and I wanted to learn more,” Murrill said. “My painting teachers left me alone and thought it was really stupid what I was doing. Being the rebel that I was made me feel like I was discovering something new about myself.

Murrill said that when it came to animal sculptures, she wanted them to feel alive.

“I’ve seen a lot of sculpture in the United States, especially animals, that have no life,” Murrill said. “They have ears, eyes, fur, etc., but they stand there like statues. I didn’t want my sculpture to look like that.

The show was first initiated by the late Michael R. Zakian, who died in 2020, and was later curated by Gyorody, who worked closely with Murrill to determine which pieces to include.

Gyorody said that although there were more than several pieces on display, the exhibit only featured a fraction of what Murrill had in his studio.

“[The experience] was very collaborative between me and Gywnn in terms of what works we would include,” Gyorody said. “We talked a lot about trying to represent the breadth of her career. It’s a wide range of work in all the materials she worked on. I think at the end of the day, we all the two compromise to make it a cohesive and thoughtful show that gives people a sense of his career.

The exhibit also offered coloring books, which featured illustrations of Murrill’s work, drawn by Pepperdine’s former student Carson Vandermade. Donations to Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing for books were encouraged.

Both Murrill and Gyorody said they had good attendance at the opening reception last month despite the pandemic.

“It’s been a good steady stream of visitors, I would say,” Gyorody said. “We haven’t returned to the levels we had before the pandemic, but we have a lot of really engaged visitors. What I’ve noticed is that there’s not necessarily a crowd of people coming through the doors all the time, but the people who come in spend a lot of time looking and really getting involved in the work.

Murrill said she was happy to have Gyorody there to help her decide which plays would be featured on the show.

“I couldn’t have picked them because there’s a whole bunch of them,” Murrill said. “She was good at staring into space [in the museum] and know how many sculptures to put in it.

One of his most ambitious and challenging pieces featured in the exhibit, Murrill said, was his 2019 piece “Vultures on a Tree.”

“I took a dead tree and had to cut it down and then had to have it completely redone in bronze,” Murrill said. “I had to figure out how to make all the birds stand there. It was a pretty big engineering problem.

Gyorody said it was interesting and fun to be able to collaborate with Murrill because of the perspectives they both had to offer.

“I think the most fun we had was when I found things in the studio that she hadn’t considered going into an exhibition, like some of the little ceramic works that she has done more recently,” Gyorody said. “There was a good compromise between the two of us.”

Gyorody said Murrill was very down to earth when it came to his work.

“Gwynn is awesome,” Gyorody said. “She has a good sense of humor and she doesn’t really self-deprecate, but I think she’s really modest about her work and what she’s been able to accomplish.”

The exhibition runs until July 31, so art lovers have plenty of time to see Murrill’s work in person. For more information about the exhibit, visit art.pepperdine.edu.

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