Erin Murray’s ‘Objects and Their Fields’ is Beyond Artifice, at PEEP Projects

Corey Qureshi sees the solo exhibition of Erin Murray at Peep Projects and comments on the technique of letting the design wrap the frame of the work so it continues the theme "beyond the artifice of structures." Qureshi also comments on the continued playfulness of PEEP Gallery's curation. Enjoy this review, then get up to Crane to see the exhibition, which will be on view to May 25, 2024.

A vertical design in a frame that repeats the design within the frame shows three curly mustache-like shapes in front of 3 bands of light colors and in back of two diagonal stripes like veils. The colors are pale.
Erin Murray, “Declarative Bias” (2024) shellac ink and graphite on canvas. Photo courtesy of Peep Projects

If you’re near the entrance to the Crane Arts building and happen to notice a tall window that looks in on a narrowish space, there’s a chance you’re looking at PEEP Projects. This month, the view gives you a peek at some graphite works on canvas courtesy of Erin Murray.

One of the last shows in Philly’s (re)FOCUS 2024, Objects and Their Fields is a showing of new works continuing in the consistent vein of Murray’s architecturally-inspired work. The variously sized canvases are covered top to bottom in her mix of graphite shapings brought to life with shellac ink. When I say top to bottom, I mean it: The frames are all wrapped in canvas as well, letting the images bleed out with a dimensionality that is enhancingly effective in most cases.

“Breaker Breaker” is a smaller piece where the smokey image ripples out to its borders through to the frame. This pushes the flow of abstract yet consistent shapes in a way that makes it easy to envision their continuation out of the picture, crawling on across the wall. Graphite is the perfect complement to this concept–a

A detail of a wall-based work shows a repeat pattern of curves with hard edges laid out with surprising colors of teal, pink and yellow. It is not clear what the subject is.
Erin Murray, Detail of “An Attempt to Hold the Center.” Photo courtesy of Peep Projects

wispy, ashen atmosphere given to the ungraspable subject. It’s here that I also noticed Murray’s layering. There are a few curved lines that cut through for peeks into a clearer, blacker black of the background, positioning the whole thing behind the frosted glass-like layer of graphite that foregrounds the work. You’re seeing the whole thing, but there’s mediation. This technique is prevalent in most, if not all of Objects and Their Fields. I don’t know that I’d call this a materiality per se, but it certainly gives dimension.

Two pieces that really thrive in a sort of dimensionality are “Declarative Bias” and “Upstream Dreams”. The former ascends in spade-like waves, while the latter descends with a wateryness. I know it has upstream in the title, but it seems to be more of a look past a flow that converges down at the bottom than a move upwards. Here the framing device loses its vitality with more sporadic color accents, a move defaulted to throughout the show that had me questioning its necessity in one hundred percent of the show. Regardless, the dimensions are really achieved in this pair through that previously mentioned mediation of layers, as well as a deft application of shadows. These shadows are seriously powerful, they bring fullness to the shapes they’re applied to in the best way.

Two works on adjoining walls, in colors from red to green to black and grey, portray repeat patterns that appear almost x-ray like of bones or machines
Gallery View of Erin Murray: Objects and Their Fields. Photo courtesy of Peep Projects

I mentioned architectural influence but haven’t expanded on it. If you look at Murray’s work over the years, the intention is clearly there. In Objects and Their Fields, curved forms really dominate. There are several pieces that work in classic designs: latticework, various spires, multifoil, inflexed, and trefoiled arches all appear in some form. “An Attempt to Hold The Center” takes abstracted ornamentations and spreads them in various sizes and positions throughout the largest canvas in the exhibition. The center is a gradiently purple aether, hazy in its spread of shellac ink. Leaving the largest surface of the show open struck me as bold, a bit agitating, but after reflecting, I feel better about it. I see a current flowing through it not unlike “Breaker Breaker”, just following a different shape. Though I’ve explained it away to myself, is this the center of the show? Is the largest thing always the focal point? Responding to the title of this one, I don’t know that it holds the center. Though definitely complete, it feels a little wispier, a little less of a fully fleshed out piece than others presented. On the other hand, it does overflow, pointing outward. While not my favorite, it holds consistent this theme of continuum beyond the artifice of structures.


There is a lot to love here. The playfulness that continues to be a throughline in PEEP’s curation is present, and the mediums are curiously unique in their blend of textures that compliment the elusive content. When visiting Crane Arts in the next month, I urge you to give this show a look!

Objects and Their Fields by Erin Murray is on view @ PEEP Projects from April 20–May 25, 2024. 1400 N American St. Wheelchair accessible.