Place Holding: Artist Katie Murphy

Your Library is hosting “Place Holding,” an exhibit featuring the expressive figurative paintings of Johnson City artist Katie Murphy. Her artwork will be displayed in our Galleria from January 18-March 3.

Murphy primarily focuses on the figurative representation of women through expressive painting. Her work explores a woman’s place in the world, dealing with ideas of identity, loss and reclamation, motherhood, loneliness, and isolation.

Upcoming Events with Katie Murphy

Along with the exhibit, we are holding two events with Murphy in January and February, a reception and a painting workshop.

EDIT: Unfortunately, the reception for Katie Murphy that was going to be on Friday, January 20 has to be rescheduled. We’ll let you know as soon as we have a new date!

Murphy will also lead a free painting workshop called “Expressive Painting from Images” in the Library’s Jones Meeting Room on Friday, February 3 from 4-6 p.m. Murphy will teach participants how to use quick and confident mark making to create dynamic paintings from a reference image.

You don’t need to have prior painting or drawing experience to participate! We’ll provide all the painting supplies, but you are encouraged to bring a photo to use as a reference image while painting.

You must register if you plan to attend the workshop, because space is limited and fills up fast!  Registration opens on Wednesday, January 18. Call (423) 434-4454 or visit the Library’s Information Desk on the second floor to sign up.

Call (423) 434-4454 or visit for more information about Murphy’s reception and painting workshop.

About Katie Murphy

Katie Murphy was born in 1984 in New Orleans, Louisiana and grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi. In May 2020, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from East Tennessee State University. Murphy has been included in group exhibitions including “National Juried Biennial Painting Exhibition 2021” at the University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and “Painting at Night” at Collarworks Gallery in Troy, New York. She recently had a solo show, “Singing Over the Bones,” in Abingdon, Virginia. Murphy is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art at Maryland Institute College of Art. She currently lives and works in Johnson City, Tennessee.

You can view Murphy’s portfolio here or follow her on Instagram.

Katie Murphy on Painting the Female Experience

We got to talk with Murphy recently about her artistic evolution and process.

JOHNSON CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY: What led you to become an artist? What initially motivated you to create?

KATIE MURPHY: I’ve identified as an artist since childhood when I would constantly draw, but it wasn’t until after I had children that I went back to school to study art. I have kept a consistent studio practice since 2015. I’ve always enjoyed line, mark making and representation. I’ve also been drawn to figurative work for as long as I can remember. But I’ve always just wanted to make things, in all sorts of ways.

JCPL: How do you describe your style? How has your style evolved since you began painting?

MURPHY: I describe myself as an expressive figurative painter. I love the figure and I love paint. My style has evolved in that I have learned how to loosen up and how to let marks be. I’ve learned to interact with my work and not just execute a plan. It’s a constant collaboration between my mind and my hand. So, most of my work is representational (meaning, you can recognize what’s there—it’s representing something), but communicated in an expressive way in terms of color and brushwork.

JCPL: You have written that your work explores and addresses the question, “Where is a woman’s place?”. When and why did this question become the focus of your artwork?

MURPHY: I grew up in the South and was well trained in manners and politeness, as well as matters of hospitality and the home. In my effort to fill the roles of wife and mother that I had been presented with, I threw myself into traditional roles without much consideration. In that way I gave up quite a bit more of myself than was good for me. So in my journey back to “self”, I needed to explore that question. Where is a woman’s place, and who told me that? What do I think, and what is good for me, my kids, and my life? So in the coming of age story of a thirty-something, I began to process these ideas and questions through my artwork.

JCPL: How does being a painter affect how you see and experience the world?

MURPHY: I’m constantly distracted by color and light. But I love that. My eye has become much more attuned to the world that I’m moving through and noticing what I’m drawn to. Also, being a practicing artist teaches me empathy, problem solving, curiosity, and openness over and over. Artists in all forms are wonderful humans.

Click here to find engaging programs for adults at your Library. Visit, call (423) 434-4450, or drop by 100 West Millard Street to use Johnson City Public Library. Like Johnson City Public Library on Facebook and Instagram to receive daily updates on Library collections, services, and programs.

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