"AT - Tribute," is the titled exhibition by Eric Murphy with a double entendre which means to be present at a tribute (this exhibit) to highlight the attributes of people and things that are being commemorated or regarded as influential elements in the artist's life and artwork.
Murphy’s categorical body of work reintroduces his past medium of mixed media and photo based collages with subjects that includes, Sylvia Robinson (dubbed "The Mother of Hip Hop") - singer and founder of Sugar Hill Records, Tarika Lewis - the first female Black Panther for Self Defense, singer/actress Aaliyah Haughton - an audio influence in his earlier work and various nods to his native Oakland culture can also be found along with pop culture as a continuous recipe. These artworks are accompanied by linguistics and various systems of proto-writing.
The category on display at Joyce Gordon Gallery is Murphy's "Oakland Allstar series." This series highlight celebrities you may or may not know that is from Oakland, lived in Oakland or affiliated with Oakland. They are engulfed in a map of Oakland, decorated in its district lines as motifs. Each embedded image is a story of their connection to the City of Oakland, Ca. Its deck of cards format includes the City of Oakland logo in place of the suit and pips below the celebrity's intial with a Wakandan script translation on the flip side. Each framed piece has a hand painted black mat by the artist to center the audience eye on the playing card format. Various found images are mixed with designs and photographs taken by the artist to complete the final work.
"Panther's First" is a tribute to Tarika Lewis, the first female to join the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. She is seen modeled after the cover of Queen Latifah's first album "All Hail the Queen." The title "Panther's First" is derived from the first single from that album - "Lady's First." The violin is referenced as Lewis's current discipline as a world class jazz violinist. The symbols beneath her initial in both directions are "Music" and "Root/Tree" in Nsibidi (a historic Nigerian proto-writing or ideograms).
Eric Murphy is a photographer, graphic design artist, independent curator and art collector. He has been supporting the Oakland arts since 1999. He was a long time former staff of Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland for over 10 years and represented bay area artists during that time. In 2012, he was Project Manager and Curator for the Oakland-Fukuoka Artist Exchange, a traveling exhibition of works by Oakland artist, James Gayles and Fukuoka artist, Hiroko To in celebration with Oakland and Fukuoka, Japan's 50th anniversary as sister cities with collaborative public art projects permanently installed in Fukuoka, Japan’s sister city gardens and Oakland City Hall.
Murphy is currently the Gallery Curator of Joyce Gordon Gallery and has worked with the gallery as a curator and art installer since 2012. Murphy is also a curatorial Advisor for Tea Roots organization based in Oakland and San Francisco, Ca and current member of the Oakland Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC). He also successfully completed two terms (2012 – 2018) as a re-appointed member of the Alameda County Arts Commission and currently sits on its board.