Deirdre Murphy

Nest Alchemy
October 1st – 31st 2023

Artist’s Reception:
October 8th 2023 1:00pm to 4:00pm

Nest Alchemy is a  thought-provoking series created by Deirdre Murphy, a contemporary visual artist, who explores the intersection of art and science through the lens of natural patterns, data visualization and climate change. Her interest in avian migratory patterns and the effects of climate change have led her research to a variety of residencies, including at Penn State University’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center.

Nest Alchemy displays the connection between birds’ nest building and the workings of our own brain cells. Murphy challenges the traditional assumption that nest building is a purely instinctual process by highlighting the learning and memory abilities of birds. Cynthia Haveson Veloric PhD, art historian and independent curator, discusses how Murphy’s paintings celebrate the “engineering marvels” of nest structures and aim to turn them into icons of a disappearing species. Veloric discusses how the vivid and symbolic colors used in her paintings mirror the changing seasons and the impact of climate change: “orange, psychologically associated with positivity, also references global warming; the green speaks of rebirth and spring, the red berries assert themselves visually against the pale teal winter sky”.

About the Artist

Deirdre Murphy is a contemporary visual artist who decodes the interconnectivity that exists in art and science via the lens of biomorphic patterns, data visualization and climate change. Through the mediums of painting, printmaking and collaborative sculpture, she has explored the effects of climate change on avian migration, nesting structures and ecosystems.

Her research has led to collaborations with scientists ranging from ornithologist, biologist, neuroscientist and virologist from the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Penn State, Lehigh University and Integral Molecular Laboratory. Artist residencies include  Penn State University’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Winterthur Museum, Hawk Mountain Bird Sanctuary, Powdermill Nature Reserve and Drexel University’s Academy of Natural Science. Murphy has been the recipient of the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, Percent for the Arts, Humanities Lab, Lehigh University and Leeway Grant.

She has exhibited extensively in museums and galleries most notably Winterthur Museum, Zillman Art Museum, Palm Springs Museum, Biggs Museum of American Art, New Bedford Museum and Tacoma Art Museum and the Philadelphia International Airport. 

Deirdre Murphy earned her MFA degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her BFA degree from the Kansas City Art Institute.  Murphy is a Teaching Assistant Professor at Lehigh University where she teaches painting, printmaking and art based climate change courses. Her work can be found at

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