Kathleen Kane-Murrell + minis 2023


May 7, 2023

On View Through:

July 2, 2023

Browse Show Catalog
Beyond the Pale hiRes
Before Telling Time hiRes
Murmurations, Inner Circle 52 x 40
Evanescent,40 x 30, mixed

Sparks Gallery is pleased to announce San Diego artist Kathleen Kane-Murrell’s solo exhibition, “Wayfinding in Suspended Times”, opening on May 7, 2023 in conjunction with Sparks Gallery’s annual small works show, “minis 2023”. 

The small works exhibition will feature over 60 works that are 12×12 inches and under; each are $500 retail or less. This exhibition is a chance to collect a small work of art from both prominent and emerging artists from California. Below is a preview of several small works that were selected for the exhibition.

Kane-Murrell’s work is inspired by her observation of the interconnectivity between humans and nature, and her longing to reconnect after isolation during the pandemic.  Her solo exhibition brings her perceptions and musings to life through her highly textured collage techniques. Many of her works present themselves like a miniature ecosystem; reverse-painted plexiglass panel is placed between the viewer and the textural backdrop of the work. Highly detailed renderings of butterflies, gingko leaves, and other organic elements painted on the transparent plexiglass appear to float over the materials affixed to the layer behind. Kane-Murrell’s specific style of mixed media collage both unites and contrasts familiar icons of nature with abstraction and human-designed composition. 

She reflects “My work is abstractly narrative. I aim between spontaneous and controlled…patinas of layered mark-making reflect my perception of light, color, and sound. When a viewer reaches to touch my work to understand what is seen, I have achieved an elusive goal.”

Kane-Murrell’s work investigates the human experience as but one aspect of the natural world. With work inspired by wondrous natural phenomena that scientists are only beginning to understand, the artist explores the concept of our place in this interconnected web of life. The idea that everything is intertwined, even in ways we may not expect or be aware of, also brought Kane-Murrell comfort during the isolating time of the pandemic. Kane-Murrell holds reverence for the mycorrhizal network (in which trees communicate with each other through their underground root systems), the migration patterns of monarch butterflies, and starling “murmurations” – birds that fly together collectively in groups of seven.

This philosophy is visually explored in the repeating motifs within each work; the artist repeats butterflies, leaves, or cut paper shapes across the piece, drawing attention to their similarities and mass as a group. Subtle changes in these repetitions, such as unique colors or placement, differentiate individual elements from each other. Yet the abstract work is undoubtedly unified, communicating the connectedness of every unit to the entire composition as a whole.

Artist Statement:

The year 2020 began as a year of vision and progression, but then, abruptly, the world found itself suspended in time. We found ourselves living on the other side of windows – phones, devices, the windows of home. Plexiglass separated us whenever we ventured away from home. At a time where we found ourselves inundated with omnipresent technology and social distancing, my mind took refuge in images of interconnectedness in the natural world – monarchs, ancient trees, and murmurations of starlings. 

Generations of monarchs travel to roost in the Oyamel mountains of Mexico in their cycle of life. Some travel vast distances and some are destined not to survive. While they appear fragile, as a whole, they are resilient. 

Similarly, trees and their connection to each other are just beginning to be understood by science. They are the lungs of the planet and there is magic in them. The massive ancient ginkgo trees in Japan rain gold when they shed their leaves. They have survived every human assault, including atomic bombs. 

Starlings collectively fly together in groups called murmurations. When I began my Murmuration series, I was wayfinding through change, grief, and loss caused by the pandemic. The concept of surrounding oneself with a small number of friends and family to help navigate during the uncertainty of life, reminded me of starlings. They have long been symbols of transformation and collective action, notorious at times and never completely silent.  This spoke deeply to me. 


Kane-Murrell’s lifelong interest in art, education, and the creative process has nurtured three careers. After graduating with a degree in marketing from San Diego State University, she worked as a corporate trainer and manager. In 1990, she translated corporate skills into an award- winning children’s art program, Fine Artists™.

Kane-Murrell’s professional art career began in 2007. She has exhibited throughout San Diego and Southern California, including solo shows in Liberty Station, Ray Street Arts District, Japanese Friendship Garden Museum, and Sophie’s Gallery. She has juried in the Oceanside Museum of Art, Cannon Gallery, San Diego Art Institute and La Jolla Athenaeum. Her work is in personal collections throughout the United States, Japan, and Singapore.Kane-Murrell’s works will be on view at Sparks Gallery from May 7 – July 2, 2023  with an opening reception on Sunday, May 7, 2023 from 5-8pm.

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