Inside the Artist's Studio: Melissa Murray in Bushwick 

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There clearly are stories in your work, but you kind of conceal or distort them by making them impenetrable, like you're almost teasing the viewer with hints of story.
I like them to live on their own, for the person who's looking at them to take it in, to leave room for them to create their own story. I like pushing it to the moment when it's not quite clear and there's no correct interpretation. I want my work to move and to exist for a while, to exist in time and stay with you so you can try to understand and make it personal.

Do you knowingly try to keep the viewer off-balance with all the discontinuities and surprises in your work?
They're all stream-of-consciousness drawings, and as I go along with them, if I hit a wall where I think that it might be too safe or too understood or too simple I'll take another road. It's a constant bouncing back and forth with how to make it more complex or more interesting.

Are there any other essential influences in your work?
I'm really interested in music when I do my drawings. Music is probably more important to me than art, in my life; and I'm really interested in trying to recreate a song in a drawing. And when you just kind of become that song, and live through it and move through it, it changes and your physical perspective changes, and I really like to recreate that in art, that sense of time, which would probably be the amount of time a viewer spends with a piece taking it in. I can get really into an album while I'm working, and sometimes if I hear an album I'll remember a drawing. There's something about a beat in music that you can relate to so physically because everything we do is repetition. A lot of repetition in my work comes from that same place, and I'll get really obsessive with grid work.

Your wild animals often inhabit very strict yet broken architectural spaces; what interests you in that contrast between wilderness and civilization?
I like putting architecture in my work and juxtaposing it with the animals, it reminds me of the city. We're constantly bombarded with stone and brick and no grass and no fresh air, and we're just these bodies moving through it. It's really inspirational to me, especially the old buildings and the craftsmanship that goes into creating a building. I'm constantly inspired by this bizarre nature which we choose to live in that's stressful and unhealthy yet we all love it.


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